Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Thoreau Introspection

Humidity. Shiiiiit. This may be the only thing in Boston that hits you before the flight attendant's accent.
(Ding) "Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Baw-stin. Where the local time is..."
I had almost forgotten about both.

The two main reasons for the trip were to throw a bachelor party for my little brother and then celebrate a wedding the following weekend. I filled up the rest of the week with catching up with friends, workouts, and mini-adventures. 

I was halfway across Walden Pond and just about to fake a flip-turn when the first pieces for this little nugget came into my brain. That, and I had seen a few brace souls dump a myriad of thoughts and emotions into similar lists of their own. I had been off the red-eye for only a matter of hours and Walden was the first place I went. Though he did not have to elbow through tourists or see the ugly construction taking place, Thoreau was really onto something. There is just something really magical about Walden Pond.

Being back at such an awe inspiring place and not being able to call it "home" is a peculiar feeling. Through a swim at Walden and run thru the city, I found myself recounting life events, soul searching, dealing with the overwhelming feelings of such profound connections with people and places but also a gratitude to the next adventure.

I had a hard time organizing these thoughts but finally settled on this. I'm approaching the start line of the final year in my twenties so in true BuzzFeed fashion here's my 29 for 29. Twenty-nine personal lessons or thoughts for 29 years in Boston training for races and life in general.

1. I believe that a bold and hearty "Fahk you" from a Bostonian is equal to a Goose/Maverick-volleyball-style high-five anywhere else.

2. My janky running cadence is symbiotic to my current writing cadence. I love both of these activities and I am going to have to work on both if I want to get any better at either.

3. A polite "On your left" said anywhere else means "Please excuse me and do not be alarmed as I run by you." Roughly translated on the Charles River: "You wanna race, asshole?"

4. I still purposely have my read receipts on.

5. A text response in all emojis is the universal sign for "this conversation is fucking over" - How do some people not know this yet?

6. Any show with a built in laugh track is not inherently not funny.

7. I live by Frost's "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening". That poem describes perfectly the feeling of being back home, and with the same exact words, describes why I left. I still smile walking past the tattoo shop in Davis Square where I decided to have it inked into my bicep. I still give a head-nod to the artist in the window every time though I am sure he doesn't remember me.

8. I also don't remember the name of the barista at The Wholy Grain and I am sure she doesn't remember mine. Upon walking in, we both recognize each other and decide tacitly not to acknowledge the meaninglessness of the name-oversight. She remembers my order perfectly (a large black coffee and Swiss Muesli). Interactions like this make me smile.

9. What someone has hanging on their refrigerator might be the best insight into their life.

10. I'm not quite sure when I realized this but I look up to my little brother in more ways than I'll probably ever admit to him.

11. Ketchup is disgusting. It is a microcosm to all that is wrong with the world.

12. I don't follow or care for sports much anymore though I do pretend to for the sole purpose of maintain connections with some friends and family.

13. As a pudgy second grader who was banished to always playing goalie at recess, I tried to change my name from Billy to Will for no other reason than I thought it would make me run faster and be inherently "cooler". Reason being that Will Russel was the fastest kid in school. I realized far too late in the game that it was OK not to be in the "cool crowd".

14. Though I love constantly dropping hearts on friends pictures, I am not proud of how attached to social media I am. I realize it is a "highlight reel" and not a true depiction of anyone's life but am jealous of people who go weeks without caring to check-in on the world.

15. The jury was out on dating apps for a while. My gavel has, as of recently, slammed them to be bullshit. It is an easy way to jam a square shaped "fix" into a circle shaped void. It inherently robs two people of the magic of organically connecting with one another and developing a relationship. The satisfaction of an instantly gratifying connection hijacks the sensation of reliving those weightless butterfly feelings whenever anyone asks "So, how'd you meet?"

16. "Maybe we could just get together and eat a bunch of caramels." 

17. Seeing the Milky Way under a clear sky for the first time is the most phenomenally belittling experience I have had to date. If I could wish one thing on every human being, it would be this.

18. Running is church to me right now. I believe in it.

19. I still have not had to experience and endure the heartache that comes with the of the death of a loved one. Knowing that it constantly lurks in the shadows of the sometime-future scares the hell out of me.

20. My favorite thing about myself is my ability to smile and bullshit.

21. Leave no trace. But always leave things (people. places, conversations) better than you found them.

22. You're in charge of your on schedule and priorities. The excuse "I'm too busy." Is the ultimate cop out. If you don't want to be somewhere or do something, be honest and don't lead people on.

23. Having confidence and passion beats being physically attractive/sexy every single time.

24. Knowing how to learn and adapt beats actually knowing a lot almost every single time.

25. I once debated that the hardest thing in the world to endure was the tail-end of an unforgiving, tear filled, conversation after breaking a loved one's heart. (I now accept that this is actually the second hardest thing one is obligated to endure).

26a. The last mile of the Boston Marathon is absolutely breathtaking. I miss taking the T out to Woodlands on Thursday nights and running the final third of the Marathon route back into the city. I also miss the pizza, beer, and people afterwards at the dive-iest of dives that was "the upstairs Crossroads Pub."

26b. I also won't be able to think of that pub without reliving the scene of falling in love for the first time. I mean really falling in love. Hard. Started by an unsuspecting comment to a stranger who I thought had just ordered a "post-run-Martini." The lessons learned and experiences from that relationship had a profound affect on who I am and how I live/love today.

27a. Consequently, I now accept that the number one hardest thing to endure is to sit on the other side of the aforementioned break-up conversation and listen as someone that you've given your whole heart to tries to explain that they do not want to be with you anymore. 

27b. I think the best (read: only) thing one can do in the above situation is not make the situation any harder than it has to be. Sitting in silent acceptance will be your only way to "return fire" as you make it more awkward for the other person. Because fuck them and what they are putting you through. (It will also make it more awkward for the cab drive who overheard the whole thing... because fuck him, too, right?).

28. I live for awkward moments and will crack jokes or movie quotes even knowing that no one around me might get them. And as long as I think that I'm funny, that's all that matters. It also makes it all the better when people do get the jokes.

29a. Weddings are still weird to me. As I watch two friends look into each other and profess an unconditional love, I am both profoundly happy that I am not ready for that yet, but, in the same sentence, admit I am equally scared I will never be able to get on that level. 

29b. I will, however, take the opportunity at your wedding to overindulge and dance with your grandmother.

Boston from the Blue Hills Skyline Trail