(…continued)

I run past Cocoa Cinnamon on my right and smile when I see the Radical Healing campus.  I bring my hand to my lips and wave, my heart bursting with reverence and respect for my friend Dave and her vision.  I beam at the sweet white house with a giant pink triangle on the door–the house where I will teach.  I am jubilant with pride and expectation.

I make my way up Swift Ave through Duke campus.  I turn into the circle of Duke wall.  I’m tired.  I can feel how the series of flashbacks has eaten away at the energy I need for running.  A larger black woman runs toward me.  She looks tired too.  I look hopefully into her face and she lifts her chin as we come even with one another.

“Good morning,” I call out softly.  She meets my gaze, smiles and waves.

I turn onto Monmouth and run up my friend’s driveway and into her backyard where I retrieve her spare key and let myself in.  Pipee the cat meows while I crush his morning medication into some food, pausing to wipe sweat from my face.  I give him ice water.  The ice feels good to my overwhelmed nervous system so I shove a handful into my bra, drink some water, let myself out and go back to my run–ice cubes clinking between my breasts as cold water trickles down my belly.  I run to Club Blvd and turn toward the neighborhood where I lived while I was training for Boston.  I’m not running at the pace I’d like, but I am running.

I become surly approaching the American Tobacco Trail downtown.  Running past a row of lower income buildings I remember an old training partner calling this “the rapey part of the trail.”  I snarl to myself about how that’s one hell of a joke for a man to make to any woman and a hell of an assumption about black neighborhoods.  Just as I spit toward the roadway, incensed, I see a man on my path to the trail.  He wears faded work clothes and stands, his posture a little gnarled, beneath the shade of a tree.  His hair is snow white against dark skin and he eats breakfast from a white paper bag.  He meets my gaze as I approach him.  His eyes crinkle in a kind greeting as he calls out to me with a warm, fatherly smile.  We exchange brief pleasantries and then he recedes behind me–but I am present and soothed by the benevolence of this stranger.

Tic, tic, tic my feet sound on the gravel.  I beam at a young family, their toddler scampering behind his sister’s tricycle.  The children wave their tiny hands and the parents look up to smile at me.

My mind’s eye sees the spinning magnets used in my first Somatic Experiencing training to illustrate how human consciousness can flow between the vortex of trauma and the spin of life.  I see the little wheels, erratic at first, come to a synchronous balance.  I feel a deep trust in myself–a trust that I know how to heal.  A breeze kisses my face and, euphoric, I feel like I could run all day.

I feel myself poised on the chancel at ERUUF with Kim at my side and the choir behind me.  I glance at Jocelyn, our new choir director.  Jocelyn wrote this piece.  She trusted me to sing it, as I trust her.  My voice floats through the sanctuary, smooth and angelic;

“I was born a wanderer drifting by and by,
Sailing wherever the wind would blow me,
Gazing at an endless sky,
Yet without a mooring, aimless was my soul,
Searching for an anchor that would make me whole.”

I smile at the morning sunshine, at everything, at nothing in particular–and I see the kind, motherly face of Reverend Brett smiling back at me in the Chapel on a recent evening at ERUUF.

May you be safe, I offer her silently.  May you be happy.  May you be healthy.  May you live with ease.

I feel the cool trickle of my sweat flowing down my quadriceps.  I hear my footfalls; Tic, tic, tic.

May I be safe.  May I be happy.  May I be healthy.  May I live with ease.

I remember the wizened man who turned me back toward the light a few minutes ago.  I see his dignified figure and his long, curled fingers extended toward me in greeting.

May you be safe.  May you be happy.  May you be healthy.  May you live with ease.

I see Kevin with the smile he wore when I woke him in the morning, sweet and sleepy-eyed.

May you be safe.  May you be happy.  May you be healthy.  May you live with ease.

There is pain in my heart.  I bring my hand there and keep running.  I take in homes and animals, the world around me with all its beauty and pain, love and heartbreak.

May we be safe.  May we be happy. May we be healthy.  May we live with ease.

I repeat it over and over, an easy cadence for miles through the forest.

I begin to think about what’s next for me.  I think about all my wandering unmoored and how I wish I had a home I might run to.

I hear myself singing loud, the choir at my back;

I will stand on this rock, my feet on solid ground
And stretch my arms out all around.
I will stand on this rock of truth and liberty,
My feet securely planted, my head and heart are free.

I am brave, I am strong, I am bold,
For I know where I belong,
On a firm foundation of faith and stone
On this rock I call home.

I remember settling into my friend’s apartment when I first fled from my home.  My life in chaos and my nervous system on high alert, I held my cat to me for dear life.  I cried and kissed her furry face and told her in a whisper; “It’s all right, Kira.  Home is where you are.”

I survey the woods around me and the question tugs at my heart;

Where is home now?  When will I be home?

My heart hurts and I bring my hand there again.  My hand is warm and comforting.  My body is firm and strong.  I calm immediately–and I answer myself;

Home is wherever I am.

I spread my arms.  I am home.

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