I think a lot about running. Not just in the literal, both-feet-on-the-ground running (though I do think about that a lot – and just ran a marathon to prove it) but also in the sense of running away from things, and running toward others.
One of my favorite phrases is ‘wild and free,’ because of the feeling it evokes for me: light, airy, someone who does things without giving a care in the world. I think I like the idea of being the girl who’s got a plane ticket in her back pocket and just picks up and goes on a whim. I’m 25. It feels like I shouldn’t need to have things settled by now. I like the idea of being transient and not pinned down, a whole wide world full of options laid out in front of me.
I actually talked to my therapist about how the idea of being pinned down to one option. I can commit to writing 1500 words a day and running a marathon and not spending more money than I’m taking in, but committing to other people is hard for me. And I think that’s why running is so captivating – running means you don’t have to commit. It means you don’t have to be vulnerable. It means you don’t have to be rooted.
Some of my peers are getting married and buying houses and having babies, not necessarily in that order. It feels like I’m at a point where all of that terrifies me, those kind of lifelong commitments that find you attached to another person or situation or place. Sure, you can change those things, but it feels so permanent. I feel way too young for all that, and for a while there I wondered if I meant I’m just too immature. But I don’t think that’s the case – I think I just picked a different path, and I took a little while to figure out what that would be. And the comparison is dumb anyway: I’m happy in LA, with my too-expensive apartment and my independence and my work of figuring myself out.
Running is tempting. When things get hard, I want to do nothing more than get up and leave the situation, no matter what it is. I think running feels really good for a while. It lets you feel like you’re making a change. I think running has a time and a place, and sometimes we don’t know what that is until we’ve done it, but it can’t be a permanent solution.
Sometimes I wonder if when I moved to LA, I was running away from something. Someone accused me of it once. I don’t have an answer, I just know that it felt like the right thing to do in the moment – the only option, really – and so I did it. Maybe I was running for something: from the cold, from depression, from an environment of my own making that wasn’t serving me anymore. In that case, running was the best course of action.
But it’s not always. My whole life, I’ve dreamed of a close knit community: people who know you, who love you, who call you out on your shit. And I don’t think you get that from running. In fact, I know you don’t. Running doesn’t allow us to build connections, to meet people, to sit with them in the hard times and say “hey, this hurts and I need you to help me get though it, and in return I will do the same for you.” If you’re constantly running, you don’t have those people. You can have friends, sure, but that sense of deep connection isn’t there. That only comes from being rooted.
For the first time in my life, I feel like I’m starting to put down roots. College felt like a temporary thing, where anything could change on a dime, and very frequently did. I was drifting for two years after I finished college, and now I’m in a place that’s starting to feel like home. I have people here who know me and love me, and I don’t feel like I need to have everything together. It feels good.
When I first moved here, I didn’t have a job or or a place to live. I said that I was going to stay for a year, and if I didn’t like it, I could always move back. In a few days, it will have been a year and I’m not planning on going anywhere. The one year plan has stretched into a tentative three years, but not really. I don’t really have a plan to go anywhere else at all. Maybe I’ll move somewhere else one day, but I’m building a community here, one that feels good and supportive and who I can’t imagine leaving.
Anything can happen, but for now I’m planning to stay where I am, to stay rooted. It’s a little scary, but it also feels freeing in a way that I couldn’t have imagined two years ago.