This morning I took my dog for a run wearing my husband’s Rosie the Riveter shirt. (Now, really, that is just a satisfying sentence to be able to say.) There was a blessed familiarity about the ritual, a long awaited return to normalcy. It’s been a while since I had a good run. I took a bit of a break from running after my half marathon in the fall, and then I gave it up entirely shortly after finding out I was pregnant. But this morning I was back at it, carrying the spirit of Rosie right along with me, her bicep bared, proclaiming “We can do it!”
The enthusiasm of spring was on the wind, though summer’s bite was just behind it. Every part of it felt so familiar, so predictable. My skin remembered the faint sting of the season’s first real exposure to the sun; my muscles remembered the rhythm and the ache of running with surprising forgiveness. My brain remembered so quickly the feeling of being strong, of pushing myself past what I think I can achieve, of pumping my feet even when I feel like stopping.
There was great comfort in conquering my weakness out on the pavement, in agreeing with Rosie that I could do it, that I could still be strong and determined and just keep going, no matter how much it hurt. Running has been a little act of bravery for me, an act of defiance against my overactive fear of failure.Coming home red-faced and huffing, I crossed the threshold a champion and rewarded myself with a cold shower while my cheeks were still pounding with the rhythm of my pulse.
I woke to kisses and handmade presents, to poems written in the loping, zealous handwriting of a six year old. I woke to a sleepy husband with unruly hair who sat up in bed and wished me a Happy Mother’s Day. It was a morning of family breakfast, of biscuits with honey, of little ones eating in their pajamas, standing up in their chairs and being reminded to sit down and eat.
It was a morning of rushing to get out the door and make it to church on time. A morning of looking for little shoes under the living room furniture and buttoning tiny buttons over round, full, tiny tummies. The smell of coffee and eggs promised to wait for us in the kitchen, along with an unwashed skillet on the stove and a handful of dog food scattered across the tile.
Into the car went bags and insulated cups of caffeine-on-the-go and toys stowed away in stealthy little hands, and the feeling of home trailed along with us, too. The boys were chattering in the back seat, and I was checking my makeup in the mirror while Sam was fiddling with the garage door opener and the radio dials.
It was a morning of movement, a flurry of events, one thing after another that quickly became one thing on top of another. And then also it was a morning of stopping, for one brief second as we climbed out of the car together, and taking in the sight of boys in their Sunday button-down shirts. A morning of taking Sam's hand and sighing with contentment, rolling my eyes that I would surely be handed a carnation that I wouldn't know what to do with, and yet being proud, so very proud to be a mother and watch my little family scramble in to church on Mother's Day.
This morning, as I walked in to work, the sky was grey and full of threatened rain, heavy and swollen with the moisture it was not yet ready to release. I read once that smells are more potent right before and after a rain, heightened somehow by the moisture and barometric pressure. Today I remembered that stray factoid and then thought about how smells trigger the most intense memories, and I felt as I was walking that I was, like the rain in the clouds overhead, tamped down by heavy air, hemmed in by the weight of memories.
The sidewalks were slick with sweat and dirt; water clinging to their gritty surface had liquefied the old surface grime, the dirt from yesterday’s shoes. The trees hulked all around me, too still, leaves poised as if breathless and waiting for the wind to return, listening for the telltale sigh of its approach. The air seemed to swallow all sound, though, even the dampened thump of my shoes on the sweaty pavement. A frozen moment, it seemed, like stepping outside of time itself. For several long minutes, I saw no one and heard nothing but the muted sounds of my advance, the occasional rustle of plastic in my purse and my own dew-cushioned footfalls.
The morning reminded me of myself these past few weeks: swollen, frozen, waiting for release. The past few weeks have seemed to exist outside of my life’s normal timeline. I feel like some science fiction character waiting to phase back into my life.
But this morning as I walked, tamped down and hemmed in by memories, I realized that in just a few minutes I would step out of the heavy morning air and into my office. There, the artificial glow of fluorescents and the current of crisp, manufactured air would be humming right along. The clocks would be ticking faithfully away. Time would be steady and constant and would sweep me right back up into it. By lunch, probably, I would forget I had even seen the frozen moment, forget that I had seen my own reflection in it.