Tuesday, June 10, 2014

My Kind of Marathon

As a freshman in college I was blessed by my living situation. Looking back, I remember the letters my freshman roommate and I exchanged before meeting. I still admire how open and honest she was, as well as her lack of judgment. I think this is part of why we connected and easily felt comfortable with one another. For example, she never complained about the fact that I was the only person on the floor with a bed time. Or that I put a big Reba McEntire head on the wall above my bed (given to me by a friend from a thrift store), even though I know she didn’t like it.

And for much of the rest of my floor I felt the same – a sense of belonging and enjoyment that came easily and naturally in a way I didn’t have in high school.

At some point in the year it came time for people to start making plans for where they would live the following year. Four of my friends on my floor had joined to live in an on campus apartment, another friend was moving off campus with other people, so I didn’t ask any of them. I asked another friend on my floor if she wanted to room with me next year and she said, “I thought you and Brooke (my freshman roommate) were going to live together again, so I already agreed to room with someone else.” Brooke and I, however, had not even discussed rooming together. I wanted to live in a dorm and she was moving off campus to a “party house” (though she didn’t end up staying there – too much party for her too)!

As far as I could tell, I had run out of options. However, and I can still remember being surprised a bit myself, I did not feel afraid or lonely or concerned, I had this strange but deep sense of peace.

One day I was late (I’m usually early) to some speaker or performance on campus. As I rushed to the building I saw a woman who had been in one of my classes doing the same. I knew her name, but not much more about her. However, since we walked in at the same time we ended up sitting together. Afterwards one of us asked the other where she was going to live next year and we both:
A. Wanted to live in Spooner (a certain dorm)
B. As of yet did not have a roommate.

After we walked out, we checked out the dorm together and it was settled.

Jump forward close to 20 years. Last November I took a short writing and meditation class where we read Natalie Goldberg’s “Writing Down the Bones”. One of the things Goldberg mentioned in the book was doing a writing marathon – where you do timed writings (and readings) for four hours straight. “I want to try that.” I thought. “But not by myself. Who could I get to do this with me?”

Over the New Year I was doing some writing with a couple friends and I mentioned this idea, one of them rolled her eyes and uttered a sound of disgust. Clearly she was not interested. I did not want this to be a marathon where I had to motivate or encourage someone to keep going. I wasn’t sure I would even want to keep writing after 4 hours. I needed someone who was in it with me. The only possibility I could think of was

that sophomore roommate.

I emailed her and not only was she interested, she was enthusiastic!

Yesterday, I felt like I may be getting sick. My sister-in-law was sick last week and I had been around her. I was slightly concerned as this is the week our writing marathon that I’ve waited for 6 months to do is planned. My friend lives in a small town in Southern MN and I usually only see her once a year. Last night I took really good care of myself. I was relaxed and in bed by 9, lights off by 9:30, and I slept really well. I feel better, rather than worse today, and I hope to take the same care tonight.

So I may not have a love story that ends in a ring, but I do have a love story that ends in a friendship of 20 years and a partner with whom to write.

I also have another friend that told me Saturday that she thinks I tell good stories (which helped inspire me to take the time to write this).

I also have the warm sun on my back under the edge of the shade, a slight breeze, a robin propped above in the birch tree, other birds singing as I sit in a camping chair with the computer propped on the back step.

I also

had to look up how to spell "McEntire", because I haven't paid attention to her since college and you know what the first thing on her website is -

"Reba has written a new song called “Pray for Peace” and she wants your help in creating the music video for it!"

And I can say Amen to that.

1 comment:

  1. Looks to me like you were blessed then and you are still blessed now.

    I like (and think it's amazing) how you have been able to remain faithful to yourself in all these years. The way you write about who you were during your time in college, you still seem like the same person as to who you are now.
    While I was a mess at the time (I hope I'm a little bit less of that now.) and I have allowed everyone on my path to influence me as they wished, only to become even messier.
    So, really, my hat off to you.