The 25,000 Mile Love Story - Page 3
Photo courtesy of the author.
We turned a bend in the road and I saw what was the first glimpse of our hometown on the horizon. It’s such a strange feeling to return when all you’ve done for half a decade is go. You’d think I’d be relieved. And in a way I was. Whenever you leave a place, you are giving something up. People, memories, comfort, a sense of abiding security. Home is the warm blanket, the timber in the fire, the foundation that makes everything new and insecure grab a firm hold and grow. I love where I am from. And its reassuring silhouette reminded me that Nicole and I belonged somewhere. We no longer had to live out of an overnight bag, plunking down tents, and rapping on doors for meals. We no longer had to beg or be in need. We could hang up pictures and sleep in fresh, clean sheets. We, in a word, belonged.
Would it be possible to hide the pride I had running toward that corner of the world we were privileged to call home, watching the Matterhorn with its chiseled peak flexing in the sky? In Switzerland, I knew what to expect—the Aletsch Glacier, the longest in all of Europe. The railway lines that claw up the mountainside. The submerging contentment of the hot springs. The magic of the small towns and the people who inhabit them—those who are not distracted by the rapid success of the world, but who are enthralled by the success that has existed for years upon years in the valleys and on the mountains. I had seen too many people on this trip who were skimping by, hand to mouth, dwelling in shortage. Clothes worn down to bare threads, the fibers caked in mud. Houses built of scrap metal, cardboard, and wood. Piecemeal poverty and war dots the world like dandelions. It would be selfish not to feel blessed.
All the same, though, just as much as Switzerland is my home, in a way, the road had become just as familiar and comforting. The strangeness had become reassuring. And I had to wonder what life would be like waking up in the same bed—my bed—two days in a row. What would it be like not to push my mind and body to such a degree that it writhed not only in pain, but in satisfaction? How would I exist without the road? To leave this behind felt—in some parts of my heart—uncertain and wrong. Strange even. For me, running is second nature, as everyday as getting a cup of coffee, checking the mail, turning down the covers.
I looked straight ahead, the mountains jutting like sandcastles straight into the sky. I could hear my feet treading, left after right. A built-in metronome, they were the dedicated clockwork that kept me going. Sometimes when I think about it, I can’t believe all the places they’ve taken me. Through the Sahara, darting along the Great Ocean Road, sifting through the bustle of Times Square. Cape Town. Sydney. Portugal. Argentina. I have smelled, touched, seen, and heard the world wake up, witnessing the sun peel into a new sky each day, transcending time zones, languages, and customs. Running can take you anywhere. Running is, in a word, universal.