Spring is definitely in the air out here in Portland, Oregon, and as is usual, this time of year has spurned a lot of changes and transformations outside and inside. While I’m still trying to keep up with everything in my own head, I thought it would be a good idea to write some of it down.
I’ve had most of the month of February off, but not intentionally.
On February 1, I decided to lace up and go out for a run. I’d been feeling a bit panicked, a bit anxious about the fact that the scale hadn’t shifted for me in a while, even while my measurements were going in the right direction otherwise – muscle growth, reduced waistline happening (slowly – but happening). The sun was bright and the air was cool and damp. It was a perfect day for a jog. I set off with a basic idea of where I wanted to go, but because I wasn’t 100% sure I’d make a loop or just a straight line to a distant point and need the bus or light rail home, I stuck my bus pass in my pocket alongside my phone.
I stretched for a bit, and then took intentional time warming up with a little bit of brisk walking. I wanted to activate all of the things needed inside. My feet felt good, and as my breathing went up, I could feel that drive to move faster building, as it always does. Soon I was doing a slow lope, kind of a fat-man-running movement that lives just above a walk, but not a full on jog, and about two or three steps beneath a full-out dash. I am, after all, just getting back into the saddle of putting pavement under my feet again, and I don’t want to hurt myself.
I made a right turn, and proceeded up a street I hadn’t gone running on before. I love taking side streets that I’ve not been on because it keeps my interest piqued – and keeps me from focusing too much on the pace of my breath or my body’s natural tendency to want to stop. Up the street, there was a piece of sidewalk that was closed off to foot traffic – a very, very common occurrence here with all of the new construction and rebuilding that our housing market is fueling. So, like I good pedestrian, I crossed the street, ran up the half of a block or so past the construction, and then went back to my side of the road. As I hopped back up onto the curb and sidewalk, I also pivoted left. In that moment, in that act of taking a step and then attempting to turn on the ball of my foot – something we all do unconsciously when we walk – a huge pop sounded off in my knee, followed by a flush of raw agony that spread down to my foot and up my thigh. Immediately, I stopped, almost falling over. “Shit!” was my first word.
I could bear a little weight on it, but something was really, really wrong. I started to panic and called Ray, but I knew he was busy picking up our roommate from the airport. I remembered my bus pass, thankful that I’d stuck that little jewel in my pocket, and set off towards the nearest bus stop. About a half-hour later, I was home, on the couch, leg elevated along with my heartbeat and anxiety level, so damn mad at myself.
That started off the medical journey that culminated in yesterday’s arthroscopic surgery to remove a piece of torn cartilage in my knee – a corner of the medial meniscus – three weeks after the injury occurred.
In the down-time between the injury and the surgery, I’ve been plagued with frustration, a heightened sense of anxiety, shame, and rage all surrounding the way my body looks and how I still feel like such a blob in my own skin. I had more than one moment with Ray, crying, admitting how mad I was at myself for pushing myself too hard because I’m so angry at getting so out of shape since he’s come into my life. I’m mad at getting old. I’m mad at my wrinkles, baldness, and waistline. He, being the angel that he is, has more than once reminded me that he’s not with me just because of my looks, and while he still finds me exceedingly handsome, he knows that beneath this messy outside, I am a decent man within. Him telling me this directly, and holding me close, really has done a number to soothe my nerves.
His support has also led me to using my downtime pretty effectively with regards to my writing. I have been able to work my way through a redraft of about four chapters of my memoir. This time around, it’s really up-close-and-personal, first-person, blow-by-blow. My writing groupies have praised this massive turn around in my words, and I’ve even sent off a couple of query letters to possible agents regarding their interest in my story. I haven’t felt this confident about any of my writing in a long time. The words now are coming from an authentic, unhidden place. I roar onto the page in very detailed and intimate flashbacks coming straight from my point of view. The act of putting the reader right there, in that moment of time, has such power, and is *exactly* what I wanted to produce for a story.
Now that the surgery on my knee is over and I’m feeling like I can get back on both feet again, things will resume their normal course of events. At least for a little while.
Ray and I have been also discussing the shifts in his life, especially with regards to his future job plans, and what that means in terms of our living situation. Later this year, in July, he’s going to be taking his Level 1 Master Sommelier exam up in Victoria, BC. It’s the kind of test and certification that will bump up his resume, especially as he also starts to transition away from table-side serving of food and wine as he currently does, and moves into tasting room/vineyard work out in wine country. The Oregon wine industry is growing in leaps and bounds these days, and will continue to do so as the climate shifts and wine production done in central and southern California has to divest of cooler-climate grapes – grapes that will do extraordinarily well up here. Ray wants in on it, as it is a huge passion of his. He’s also working to incorporate his skills in design, with an eye to work on label and marketing material for vineyards throughout the Willamette region and around the Pacific Northwest.
All of this, for us as a couple, translates into moments of transition, possibly out of Portland, Oregon. We both have dreamed about having our little spot somewhere, where we could raise a garden, chickens, and have a dog or two. Right now, in the current state of Portland proper, those kinds of things are way out of our reach. The average home price here is up in the $300k range, and rentals on single-bedroom spots (most without any outdoor access or pet options) is over $1500 for anything comfortable. Given our love for the outdoors and access to the stars and trails and mountains and ocean, we are keeping our eyes out for spaces that would accommodate us both better without being too much of a burden on our wallets. This year will see us both focusing on getting our credit card debts down, getting our finances in further order, and figuring out our next move forward, as a couple.
The fact that I have him in my life, to share in his exploration of self, watching as he comes into his adult form, is amazing. I saw great potential in him when we first met, but now, two years in, it’s clear that we’re sliding into a far greater, stronger place as a couple. His friends have started ribbing him about marriage, and it’s adorable to see him squirm about it a little. I’m not driving that conversation at all, and have told him it’s all in his court – I’ve been there and done that and I know that if we do get married, it’s going to be unlike anything either of us has ever experience. He’s making grown-up decisions about his career, and is deliberately seeking a balance between making the money to pay the bills and having a life that brings him joy daily, where he doesn’t always feel like he’s just feeding into a machine, but taking an active role in growing and shaping in cooperation with a team of like-minded people.
So, yeah. 2016 has started with a lot of shake-down, a lot of shifting away from the old and transitioning into the new. While I loathe that I’m older and can’t beat up on my body like I always have, I know that this month to reflect and change gears has done me a lot of good. Ray has also had to shake off some of his own doubts and fears and is making some earnest moves towards the life he envisions for himself. The daffodils are blooming. The crabapple trees are too. Spring’s renewal is a welcome thing this time around.