Muscle Memory

I just got back from a run.

We’ve moved into our new apartment, and we’re mostly settled, but there are still things to figure out.  We don’t know when trash day is.  We still need to buy a stopper for the tub.  I’ve yet to find a solid route for when I run.

I’ve tried visualizing the possible paths but I know the only way to really figure it out is to put on my sneakers and get out the door.  Isn’t that what writing is like too?  It’s so easy to daydream, but what it comes down to is sitting down and seeing what you actually come up with.  That is, until you get stuck, in which case it’s a good idea to get a change of scenery and allow your brain to come up with a new strategy.

Running remains the best way for me to do that.  There will always be a special place in my heart for kung fu, which I’ve done for almost 25 years now and the boundary between kung fu and family will always be blurred.  For the past ten years, yoga had become the alternative to my martial arts practice, but these days standing on a mat for 60-90 minutes just doesn’t feel right.  Running forces me to put everything on hold.

Running through Jamaica Plain this evening, I was sadly aware of how the golden light prior to sunset was coming earlier than it had in July.  We are still outdoors and wearing shorts and flowers are still blooming, but the lushness of summer is making it’s annual descent into fall.  It got me thinking.

In my adult life, and maybe when I was a teenager too, I’ve found myself preoccupied with anniversaries, both big and small.  I have these emotional landmarks: I have my life before and after that break-up, my life before and after Japan, my life before and after marriage.

I explained to my husband that writing a memoir about the worst year of my life, I didn’t just have one bad year, but probably somewhere around 3.  In order to recreate those events in words, I had to recall those memories as meticulously as possible.

I’m pleased with the results on paper, and will be sharing some excerpts over the coming weeks, but it did not come without it’s mental and emotional price.  In 2010 I went to Japan, and then I came back, and went into a room, and started writing, and when I re-emerged with my book I was about to celebrate my first wedding anniversary and wondering where my mid-twenties disappeared to.

Don’t get me wrong, I feel unbelievably fortunate to have had this experience of such incredible focus.  I’ve had the chance to create this career that I always dreamed of, and I have the unwavering support of my friends and family as I do it.   This is nothing short of a blessing.

But there is a difference between my work as a writer, and working on this book.  For the past two years I’ve been in the zone with this project, and running tonight reminded me of all those other moments in my life that haven’t received nearly as much attention as that year featured in my book.

What about being a high school student?  Could I remember what it felt like to wake up without coffee?  Or the odd jobs I’ve taken?  My childhood fear of my parents sending me away to overnight camp?  That first time I looked in the mirror and realized I was an adult?  Or those late night car rides back when we didn’t have anything better to do?

With this book behind me, I am looking forward to creating new memories, writing new stories– both from my life and my imagination.  Stay tuned for updates on my latest projects, and I hope you are enjoying these precious last days of summer!