A girl and her cat take on the world with nothing more than a cup of tea and a good book and enough dreams to fill the universe.
This post was a struggle. I didn’t really know quite what I wanted to write about. I’ve wanted to write about stress, running, about leaving things behind, and about looking forward into the future. Looking at these different topics, I felt like they each deserved their own post. Yet, seeing them written out, I see that they work better together. The stress of this move is monumental. I’ve moved several times before and it’s been farther away. These past moves have been different though, they’ve included my family or the promise of returning home. This move is it. It’s the true launch. It’s the end of my life as a child, and even though I’m twenty-two, it’s super nice to know that my dad will be cooking me dinner and that I don’t have to worry about the electric bill or what having a two sweater or one sweater day means for my gas bill in the winter. My dad and I have finally connected too. This furniture redesign helped. So did our Wednesday night wings when he’d let me tag along occasionally. He’s ridden his bike alongside me on some of my longest runs, uncomplaining in the rain and the cold. Just today we finally finished a package of organic greens before some it rotted and we had to throw it out. We’ve never done that. I’m going to miss these quiet moments with my dad, when he works on writing math curriculum and I work on my blogs or on my own OER work. I’m going to miss this new-found stability in our relationship where we’re both comfortable around each other and we’ve quit driving each other up the wall.
I feel like I can feel the stress of this move in my heart. It’s this tight feeling in my chest and sometimes it feels like it’s hard to breathe. Having my mom, who is also my running mentor and partner, move away, I have struggled to remain motivated to run through all of these preparations. I miss our long runs and being able to talk about anything and everything. Now, I have silence that I try to cover up with music. Some days it works. Some days it doesn’t. I still try and run at least three times a week as my sister and mom have joined me in a challenge to run 80 miles before August 10th. So far, I’ve managed 58.9 miles and my mom has already beat 80. I recently made a personal record on my half-marathon time (13.11 miles) after running it in 2 hours and 45 minutes at 5 AM on a Sunday with a 30 mile an hour head wind. I still don’t know how that happened. When I do motivate myself to really get out there and push myself, the stress of all of the moving and complicated parts of moving fade away. It becomes me versus myself, working with myself. There’s a sort of peace that comes with all of your bones and muscles working in together perfectly to propel you forward and maintain paces that seemed impossible when I started running last fall. A twelve minute mile is still really slow, but it’s still progress. I’m in love with the power and beauty of the human body when I run. Every time I go outside, I’m reminded of how strong I actually am and I’m reminded that I will get through this.
In the past, moving has never presented much of a problem for me. I don’t remember experiencing any real stress before starting at a new school, even when I moved in-between my freshman and sophomore year of high school. I’ve missed living in certain places and I miss certain people, but I’ve never before really felt this worry about how am I going to piece together a social life for myself in my new town. Leaving people is strange because it feels so natural to me. I’m absolutely terrible at keeping in contact and moving a lot as a child seemed to condition me to not viewing friendships as permanent. They’re nice, but they’re transient. They’re necessary, but they change and shift. I’m also the sort of person who, when I feel attracted to a person, either romantically or platonically, I go deep and very intense for a short while (anywhere from a few months to a few years) and then I’m done. So, I’m confused by this worry. I’ve never struggled to make friends or really to keep them. I know I’ll be fine. I have a plan. I’ll join a book club. I’ll find a running buddy. It will all fall together. No worries, yet I worry. Leaving this tiny town in Nebraska, I find that I’m actually going to miss quite a few people. I finally managed to create adult friendships that I hope will last me a lifetime. I will miss the people here.
In an effort not to get too sappy, here’s a picture of a bear waving goodbye.
I will miss the landscape too. Nothing is more beautiful than this tiny corner of this red state. The Pine Ridge has this sort of rugged, empty beauty that I absolutely love. Before I left for France in 2009, I told my mom that if it wasn’t in Nebraska, I would have loved for my heart to be buried at Toadstool, a geologic park next to Fort Robinson. I can see the beginning of the ridge from my front door and I know those trails like the back of my hand. I’ve worked out at Chadron State Park and felt my heart break when the park burned two years ago. I will miss this place.
Still, there’s a lot to look forward to in Wheatland. They have a bookshop. A real bookshop, even though it’s a smaller town than Chadron. There’s a coffee shop, though I know it will probably not have the fun, bohemian vibe of the Bean Broker here, but it’s still a coffee shop to get to know and to enjoy. Laramie Peak is only an hour away and Glendo State Park is twenty some odd minutes away. Laramie and my sister and a home-cooked meal from my nanny from when I was a baby in Douglas is only an hour away. Denver and the theatre and the art that I’ve missed so much living here in Nebraska is only two hours away. There is much to be discovered. There is much to look forward to. I will carve my place out yet in this world and Wheatland is just the beginning. It is with these combinations of feelings and fears and excitement that I am looking towards tomorrow with. The nerves are already rattling my stomach and I don’t think I’ll sleep tonight, but I can’t wait. I can’t wait.
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Brian Marggraf, Author of Dream Brother: A Novel, Independent publishing advocate, New York City dweller
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New York City based photographer STEFAN FALKE visits artists who live and work on both sides of the 2000 miles long U.S.- Mexico border to document the vibrant culture of the region for his ongoing project. All photos and texts © Stefan Falke (No use without written permission by the author)