Average Jane

Muscle Memory

I was in the middle of my workout this morning when I noticed something: My first set of back extensions left my abs sore, thighs cramped, and back fatigued, after a minute’s rest, I was able to launch into my second set refreshed and renewed.

But the relief didn’t last. By the middle of the second set I was already fatigued, feeling the dull, gnawing pain start to return. And by the end of the second set I was in more pain than before.

The heart is a muscle, and what I’ve realized is that it, too, has a very short memory.

Before I left for Seattle I promised a few things:

And once my demons have been sufficiently faced, the partying will begin. Quantum theory will be discussed, the codemonkeys will talk code, and I will drink. We will shoot pool. Lots of pool. There will be debauchery. And rock climbing. And a possible run around Green Lake.

It all came to pass… that and then some. The partying, the codemonkey talk, the pool… and the drinking. Oh, the drinking. I was spared quantum theory. But back to the drinking… I finally let loose. I drank, and danced. I smiled. I ate vegan spice (girl) cake. With real sugar. And icing. And spice girls. I took a billion pictures with me and my boys. My boys… my heart. I can’t remember a better night, possibly with the exception of our last night out together in NYC.

I also pushed myself harder than I’ve ever pushed myself. I went rock climbing and finally finished my first, second, and third “problems”. Granted, they were problems that actually fell below the lowest level, but I finished them, damn it. And my knees are busted because of it.

The next morning we were up for a run around green lake. 2.5 miles. I ran it all. Further than I’ve ever run. I was motivated by my Raindog. He was right next to me the whole time. Even when he was up ahead of me, I felt him by my side, encouraging me like a brother, like a partner, like a best friend. He was so proud of me… but not more proud than I was of myself.

But what of the demons? I faced those, too. This time, it didn’t stop in Seattle. On the trip, I faced my old boss. I faced my old town. I faced the darkest year I can remember, but it wasn’t until I got home did I realize that I had a long way to go.

See, the whole time I was in Seattle, I wanted to move back. I wanted to take my amazing weekend, my best friends, my runs, and climbs, and drunken benders and mold them into a new life for me across the country. But how soon I forget. I had very few friends when I lived there, I had no family. My support network was thin, my wallet was thinner. I missed national politics. I missed Eastern Standard Time.

The muscle memory of my heart had been short. But at least I caught it this time. I’m not ruling out the idea of moving back to Seattle some day, it fits me. It is me. But my life is here, now. For once, I am not running from anything. I have a great job that I love (who can say that?), a great apartment, amazing friends, and a future here. What do I have there? A dream of something that may not exist. That doesn’t exist except for in the recesses of my once pained heart.

I know that this muscle memory extends to all facets of my life, of all our lives. That ex? The one that treated you like crap? You know you have moments when they don’t seem so bad. When the idea of letting them back into your life drifts slightly past “ridiculous prospect” into the realm of “theoretical possibility”. Maybe they are moving, maybe they have met someone new. Maybe you found their old t-shirt that still faintly smells of them. You are transported to the best of times… the laughter, the love, the passionate nights, the sweet mornings. The fights in the car, the arguments over dinner, the anniversaries missed, the words unspoken remain suppressed. We are built this way for a reason.

I’ve heard that women quickly forget the pain of child birth. Probably because if we were built to remember it, no one would ever have more than one baby. (Forgive me, my metaphors tonight have been particularly horrible.) So, too, is the pain of love lost. We forget the pain of heartbreak or else we may never allow ourselves to love again.

This week back has been so hard. So lonely. But this pain, too, shall be forgotten when I get to see them again next year and remember only the good bits. The best bits. My boys.


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  1. * Justin says:

    A haunting and poignant post.

    I understand your feelings for the Pac NW; I often miss it, too.

    | Reply Posted 10 years, 5 months ago

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