Do you ever have those moments when your life suddenly feels very cyclical? When the past and the future seem to commingle and jumble until it all is blended smoothly together?
This happened to me a couple of nights ago. The weather was beautiful and I had a free hour, so I decided to go for a run. The first outdoor run of the season is always amazing; being able to experience the fresh air and sunshine after being cooped up for the eternity of winter, all the while releasing endorphins like crazy, is a feeling second to none.
For a little background, my house is in the same neighborhood as the one in which I grew up. It's really special to be able to reconnect with friends and neighbors that I've known my whole life, and I love knowing my way around with a confidence that can only come with great familiarity.
This makes running near home a bit of a deja vu experience. As a teenager, I used to run constantly, winding in and around the suburban culs-de-sac and interconnected neighborhoods near my house. I had one particular route that I chose most often; it was about three miles in length, well-shaded, and comprised of quiet streets with little traffic.
This is the route I decided to take earlier this week. There was something a bit surreal about it; jogging through the twilight, seeing the same trees and the same sinking sun that I saw almost fifteen years ago when I first became a runner. I was also wearing my favorite running outfit, black cropped yoga pants and a pink Adidas track jacket that once belonged to my mother. I started wearing it when I was just barely a teenager, and I haven't stopped wearing it since. It's warm enough for days like these, when the temperature just hits 60 but cools quickly at night. It's cool enough for those late spring days when there's a bit of a breeze and a lot of shade but the sun is hot. Its pockets are deep and graciously hold my keys and cell phone without letting them bounce around or worse, fall to the ground. It's the perfect jacket for running. And I wore it the other day, just as I had literally hundreds of times before.
As I ran, I listed to music on my Sony Walkman mp3 player, a bit outdated but with a killer battery life and awesome pink exterior. I've always been a bit outdated with my technology, but I don't care. When I was young, I used to jog on these same streets, in the same jacket, listening to the same obnoxious alt-punk rock on my Sony Discman. Things haven't changed ever so much.
And then there's the fact that my after-school jogs were the times I usually considered my day, thought about my feelings, and planned for my future. It was then that I had some of my best ideas. I was motivated and stubborn and believed I could conquer the world. Lately, I've been getting a little bit of that spark back.
When I was in high school, there was a particular young man I liked to think about when I was out for my run. He brightened my day at school with his intellect and humor, and I loved to daydream about him when I was free, out in the fresh air and bright sun. I never told him how I felt back then, but I'd say things worked out--I married him. :-) So that all felt a bit cyclical the other night, too.
Despite all of these things, the small bits of life that have remained oddly the same as everything around me has changed, I didn't feel shunted or backwards. I felt content and comforted--how wonderful that, even with the struggles and tragedies and weakness I've had to overcome in the years since, the little things in my life are really more or less the same as they were back in 2003 when I couldn't have imagined where I'd be today. And aren't the little things really the huge things, anyway? A favorite jacket, a jog in the sunshine, a house in a good neighborhood, great music, wonderful neighbors, parents who are nearby and give me their clothes, and the guy I've dreamed about since I was 13? Yeah, I'd say those aren't really the little things after all.