December 9th, 2012. Sunday night, 10:30pm to be exact. It’s 50 degrees and raining in Northeast Ohio. James and I slept in this morning. Coach will not be too happy when he finds out we ran this late, again.
It’s a long run, too. Long enough that if I don’t find something to talk about right away, I’m not going to last.
It will be three years this Christmas. James and I met over the internet. He sent me a Facebook message asking if I knew “so and so”. I knew exactly who he was, though he wasn’t foreign, as I had assumed back in the day when I stalked the Kent State Track and Field team.
We talked non-stop on the phone for about one month before we met in person on December 14th, 2009. I flew out to Miami, Florida, a trip lasting less than 24 hours. Had I not known “so and so” I would not have taken the risk to meet this internet crush of mine.
From the start, we were breaking all the rules.
“You do know that if we are going to get married in two to three years, you typically have to get engaged about a year out?” were my first words on this damp night.
“Yeah, I know that. Why?”
“Well, it hit me the other day, like, holy crap! Is James going to propose this Christmas?”
“Ah, I’m not ready for that yet.”
“Oh, I know! I’m not either. I just…”
Talking was somehow getting harder to do. It was too dark to see any incline but 8:30 pace shouldn’t have been feeling like that.
Life has been busy for the both of us lately. I’m trying to establish myself as a professional in the mental health field while he is trying to retire by the age of 40 all while we are both trying to still run competitively. From the outside, it looks like something might be wrong.
“We’re alright, right?” I asked.
“I think so, do you?”
I don’t want to be one of those people who try too hard to convince themselves that they are ok without marriage. There may be a part of me that wants a ring this Christmas. Call it what you may. Whether it’s an inherent female need or a side effect of the source that brought us together. Oh Facebook and your newsfeeds.
I must ask myself, though. Do I want a ring because I want to take on a new adventure with my love or do I want a ring so that I can fit in with everyone else?
Do I want to be a faster runner because I genuinely enjoy pushing my body through pain or am I trying to be someone I am not?
On the verge of entering 30-dom, I’m quickly becoming the minority.
Why does it have to be so black and white?
Because runners tend to be so black and white. For every Garmin-wearing-Type-A-straightlaced-runner there’s a trolling Letsrun fanboy living in mommy and daddy’s basement. In running, you’re either normal or weird.
In life, you’re either normal or weird.
“I feel so much better getting this off my chest.”
My lungs thanked me, too. We were down to 8:10s now and it felt easier than the beginning.
“I like us the way that we are. I like going into each day without a concrete plan.”
He nodded in agreement.
“It’s like we are constantly creating this big picture together, without any rules.”
That picture from the outside might even look messy. It’s an unspoken truth in this sport that some runners are messy in love with themselves. I always assumed we were perfect, structured beings, us runners. As I became more involved in the community, I was amazed at the amount of divorce, affairs, and police blotter stories. For an activity that is supposed to keep us sane and organized, it surely isn’t enough to keep life from slipping in every now and then.
Thirteen steady and wet miles were now done. I kissed him goodbye and we hopped into our separate cars. The clock read, “12:30am.”
It doesn’t always have to snow in December. You don’t always have to run in the morning. And if you’ve been with someone for three wonderful years and a countless amount of miles, you don’t always have to get married right now.
Happy anniversary, babe.
How do you bend the rules?