I left London on the Friday of last week, and headed for Dublin.
In theory, I may be having a “long distance relationship,” but in reality, Paul and I see each other most weekends. This seems…mindblowing…to some. But since I live in a weird, alternate reality, where crossing the Atlantic Ocean is somehow more palatable and achievable than going below 14th Street, this makes perfect sense.
So I landed in Dublin, and Paul met me at the airport, and drove me back to his house before he headed back to the office.
He worked late, and I went for a run at low tide.
Ireland is…weird. Weird in a sort-of magical way. The thing of it is…I had never once considered it. All of this caught me by surprise. I wasn’t sitting around in my adult life thinking, Oh, Dublin would be nice. In fact, I had, over the past 15 years, had three trips planned to Ireland, all of which had strangely been cancelled prior to taking place. It was as if Ireland and I were somehow star-crossed; never to happen.
So I ran a few miles, then ran back to Paul’s house to shower and wait for him to finish work. He came in late; cranky. We had traded angst over the weeks prior. When we had gone apple picking the week before in Connecticut, I had erupted into a spectacular supernova of grief and fury on the drive home. He had tried to be helpful, thinking I wanted him to understand what I was talking about, but it had just made the whole thing worse.
It has been a Very Weird Year. I know some of my friends have had it worse than I have, but I’ve taken a beating — I’ve had my ego monstrously crushed in a very public way. I had said to one of my friends back in London in April, as the blue twilight lit the Opera House at Covent Garden, If everything goes right, I won’t get any credit, and if everything goes wrong, I will bear all the blame.
And I have been exactly right about that.
But by Litchfield, I was exhausted. And as to me and Paul, by Litchfield, we had come to lock horns over the thing that comes between runners and non-runners — which is to say The Distance.
By The Distance I do not mean The Atlantic Ocean. I simply mean, the miles-on-foot as prescribed by my training plan. Paul had never dated a Distance Runner; he simply didn’t understand that I wasn’t avoiding him when I set out for many miles on a weekend morning — I was just investing in an insurance policy that would prevent me from looking like a complete jackass as my 29 year old, 1st Time Marathoner brother wiped the streets of New York with me on November 3rd.
And so I had had my tantrum last weekend, and he had come home from work in A Mood, and had made plans for us to drive to Kilkenny which he loved, and where I was to get up at the crack of dawn and run 20 miles.
We arrived at Mount Juliet under cover of darkest dark, and snuggled in for the night. Paul begged me not to set eleventy billion alarms, which, if you know me, you know that this was asking a lot. I am a deep sleeper; struggle to wake with one alarm. But after a short sleep, he woke me up at 6, and I was off by 630 in the pitch black for a 20 mile run.
Admittedly, I had to run/walk the first two miles because I kept nearly getting hit by the delivery trucks coming onto the estate. But as the sun rose behind the clouds, the morning run got much more interesting.
And so I ran.
Paul had arranged for me to have a massage mid-morning, so I finished the run just in time, and raced off for a massage. Then we drove back into Dublin, for a birthday party and dinner with Paul’s siblings and their spouses, who are wonderful.
In truth, my life has begun to feel completely normal, despite having felt sharply abnormal for the last few years. Well. My life is busy, and frantic, and a long stream of hotels and airports and meetings and conference calls and race numbers and…all of the things that it has always been, but somehow, for the first time in a very long time, I don’t feel like such a stranger anymore.