You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.

I knew, as the daughter of a Helen Reddy-roaring, 1970s hippie, not to go chasing love in the arms of another. 

It comes from you first, Mum would say. You can stand in the mirror and say it, if you want. (more…)

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C’mon skinny love, just last the year

There’s a night in the back seat of a long, bloated car, your feet tangled in the skinny end of a sleeping bag, when you can’t move him from your mind. Cicadas chirp outside your cocoon, muted by the cold-pearled windows. Your logic sits in your throat, whispers up to your brain, Stop. He cared more about his reflection in other people’s eyes than your trust in his hands. But your mind is too cloudy with the late-night fog of memories, and all you can think of is him seated at the end of a torn couch, caring, caring. The two of you on the dewy front lawn, cigarette smoke floating above the taste of burnt coffee, a father chasing his renegade children down the sidewalk in front of you, and him turning to tell you, “I was one of those leash kids. I’d just take off running.” And you laugh until you are doubled over, because of course he was. He might be running his whole life. (more…)

Before, when you took off and walked down new, foreign streets, it was in defiance. Not that you knew it then, of course, but it was how you were going to prove your worth to yourself. Not anybody else, just you, which is somehow worse. Nerves crackling as you walked jagged sidewalks — I can learn this city, you would challenge yourself, I can crack its codes. This would signify a permanence you could take with you, despite the changing tides of your life, despite the uncertainties. It would carry you through. (more…)

The first time I ran a 10k, I was 16 and had recently completed the Couch-to-5K program. My mum and I had managed to run about 8k without stopping, so we made a last-minute decision to sign up for a 10k that weekend. I was excited — to wear a racing bib, to reach a new goal, to cross the finish line. Mum gave me a little side-eye and said, “Kenza, remember to pace yourself.”

We’d been running together for a while at that point, but the problem was, we never actually ran together. I had this horse-like instinct to remain in front of our two-person pack as we looped around Santo Domingo’s botanical gardens, so I ran slightly ahead of Mum, which kept my competitiveness in check for the most part. If someone came up from behind and passed me, it was fine — as long as they were fast enough that they quickly zipped out of eyesight. But if they were within reach, I couldn’t help it — breath ragged, I’d speed up with a singular goal of needing to pass them. It usually fucked up my run, scared strangers, and I’d end up walking the last kilometer or two. (more…)

You should change. The habits that annoy you, the things you never apologized for, the future you know you could reach if you just straightened up your life a bit. Those bits, yes. By all means, tidy up the attic in your brain, stoke the fires of your motivation. That’s all peripheral.

But you shouldn’t change.

Because there are so many people out there that don’t want you, anyway. Not really. (more…)

 

The longer I live, the more ghosts live with me. They twine themselves around locks of hair, tuck in behind my pierced ear. One lays in the scar sliced into my shin during my summerful of biking. One swings from an anklet given by a boy whose memory is as persistent as an earworm. One tries to be a guardian angel against both bike injuries and broken hearts, and that ghost lives beneath the bracelet my father gave me years ago. The ghosts flit over eyelashes and warm themselves under rings. (more…)

 

When you see me lacing into my Nikes, iPod discarded next to me on the porch, you squint and give me that oh another overachiever look: ‘Why do you run?’ It should be an easy question to answer, but it’s not. I started for the typical reasons. I didn’t want to get fat. Social approval. X does it, and I think X is pretty cool, so I’ll do it too.

But why you start running isn’t why you keep running, although the two trip into one another. Last week you could only run 4 minutes without feeling your lungs give out. This week you can run 10 uninterrupted. And then you run your first 10k, and then you can’t stop, because if you went from 10 minutes to 10 kilometres in a couple of months, how far could you go if you push further?

(Same thing we do every night, Pinky – try to take over the world!) (more…)