So, you all know I run. I don’t run fast, and as with my writing, my running isn’t super consistent. But, I enjoy it, and I like to get out often, except for when I find an excuse not to. Running is as much about disciplining the mind as it is the body.
Anyway, I ran a 10k while on vacation in my hometown, Kalamazoo, last weekend. I had a blast. Seriously. Best race I’ve run in a really long time. My time was good, for me, but more it was my mindset. I wanted to be there. I was happy and excited to be there. People were having fun and there were several cheerleaders along the route. Even though it was early in the morning, I felt amazing.
As awesome as that was, the race wasn’t actually the focus of this piece. When I run, I think. My mind wanders and I let it – suddenly I’m a mile further than I was the last time I focused on my surroundings – woot!
So, during this race, I started thinking about the arbitrariness of life. There I was, in my hometown, in a location I know very well, but yet, I was still an outsider, a visitor. That’s a strange feeling. To be home, yet to not really be home. It’s a feeling I’m pretty familiar with. As an expat, and even in places in the US that aren’t Kalamazoo, I have felt both at home and like an outsider simultaneously.
We’ve been in Texas for nearly four years now. I have good friends, I know my way around pretty well, at least in our immediate area. I refer to Texas as home when I’m not there. But, I’m still an outsider. I have to ask questions people who’ve lived there their whole lives, or who are second or third generation (or more) in the the area, wouldn’t dream of needing to ask. I’m in good company, though. Many people who live in our neighborhood are transplants or expats, so that helps – we all muddle our way through and faux pas are generally kept to a minimum.
I am always a little speechless (which doesn’t happen often) when I think about the arbitrariness of friendships. What if we had moved into a different neighborhood? What would my life be like now? What if I never took Arabic classes in Dubai? What if I never went to the temp agency in Chicago and got the job at Aon? What if I never left the bank? What if I never left Kalamazoo in the first place?
Why does any of that matter? Maybe it doesn’t. But these are things I think about when I run.