It’s been a long and lonely 7 months since Jaymie got on a plane and flew to the opposite side of the world. This intermission in our lives has been longer than those before by at least 3 months. It’s difficult when such a huge part of your small family is misplaced for such a large amount of time, to a dangerous place, with minimal contact. Actually, we’re lucky to live in the age of technology where instantaneous email replaces weeks-long snail mail and online chat is possible provided we’re both actually awake and at a computer at the same time. But all the electronic interaction in the world can never replace the value to quality togetherness.
The past 7 months have been quite the experience for me. For starters, it’s the longest I’ve ever lived alone. In college I always had at least one roommate and my officer training at Ft. Lee only lasted three months. Sadly (and amusingly), I spent the first few weeks struggling to fall asleep at night worrying about whether or not I’d locked all the windows and doors, my mind turning every little noise in the house into the possible footsteps and rummaging of a home intruder. I’ve had to grocery shop and cook for just one person, which is surprisingly hard to do. Everything is sold in such large packaging and most recipes make at least four servings instead of one or two. Never mind the fact that I really can’t cook in the first place. I’ve had a lot of mac and cheese and instant potato nights.
When the brigade left, so did most of my friends. Out of the kindness of their hearts, a roommate from college and her boyfriend, who are also stationed up here, have taken me into their home countless times, “forcing” me to eat their delicious cooking and giving me a couch to sleep on after that extra beer. But largely, I’ve had to make new friends in order to fill the void and gain companionship to avoid going completely bonkers from loneliness. As an introvert, making new friends isn’t easy for me, but I’ve been fortunate enough to meet some amazing people who make it so easy for me to feel comfortable and welcome.
Mostly I’ve found solace in the outdoors, mostly in the form of running. The outdoors have been a place of relief for me for several years now but I’ve found myself stepping out of the confines of my home a lot more lately. One of my biggest personal challenges is the fact that I tend to not be as intrinsically motivated as I sometimes wish I was. It takes a lot of internal persuasion for me to get myself outside on days when it’s cold and raining (so far this summer, that’s practically every day) or when I’m tired or frustrated with work (also practically every day). The aforementioned friends have helped me a lot in this regard as well, but not having energetic and enthusiastic Jaymie around every day to drag my butt on some adventure which I inevitably have fun on every single time has taken some adjusting.
As I mentioned, most of my outings have been in the form of running. I wouldn’t necessarily say that I’ve been “training”. To me, the concept of training seems too restrictive; a series of workouts that you have to do all culminating in one goal race and then you’re “done”. Instead, I decide each day what I, and my body, feel like doing, usually with a rough idea of what I’d like my mileage for the week to be, just to keep myself somewhat on track for my more concrete goals.
Running is not definite for me. Although there are certain goals I do have that will likely be transformative and life-changing, there is not one capstone running event that will define my time as a runner. To me, running is an evolving process of discovering who I am and what I am capable of doing. The goals are always different. Sometimes, it’s going out for three miles just to show myself that I can overcome the desire to just stay home and sit on the couch. Sometimes, it’s going out without knowing, or caring, how far I’ll go, just to explore and reconnect with the earth.
This weekend, I’ll be toeing the (most likely non-existent) starting line of the Resurrection Pass 50. If I complete this race, it will be my first successfully completed ultra-marathon event. I’m nervous and excited. 38 of the 50 miles run through a pass in the mountains and all of those miles will be self-supported. I have to carry all my gear with me and the majority of my fretting has been over what food and clothing to carry. The weather forecast is steadily improving and I have some wonderful friends helping me out with before and after logistics (thanks Lucy and Pete!) so things are falling together nicely. My job now is to rest up, eat right, and put one foot in front of the other for 9-11 hours.
In a way, this race feels like somewhat of a culmination of a journey. Of course it’s not the end; there are races scheduled and adventures to be had. But all the miles that I have spent seeking solace in a time with the ups and downs of life without Jaymie will now help me (or not) to achieve a goal. I’m loath to admit that some good has come out of the past 7 months, but there are pros and cons to every situation.
The way I see it, the remaining time apart is all downhill from here. When Jaymie gets home, our little family of three will hit the ground running with adventures and life will be good. The outlook for our future Army assignments is dismal but as it stands now, we have three months of time together to enjoy life and you can bet your bottom dollar we fully intend to do so.