Another Step

As of July 1, 2015, I will no longer be living where I currently am.

Since the beginning of last year, I’ve been renting a room from Bil and Brandon, a couple who I got to know in my early days here in Portland.  Bil and I had become connected in Denver, and went hiking and hung out a few times, prior to my departure from there to here, and then their subsequent move to Portland shortly after.  When things blew up between Caleb and myself, and I was stuck in a precarious living situation, Bil and Brandon opened up their home to me for a very reasonable rental rate, and gave me shelter and a place to call home while I got back on my feet and began my job as a bus operator.  Immediately following my move-in, I met Raymond, and for the last year and a half, I’ve been splitting my time between the place with all of my stuff and at Raymond’s house. It has been a truly wonderful period in my life, with lots of personal growth, a better understanding of what it means to be in love with another man, and lots of roots have been planted here in Portland.  Due to circumstances out of their control for the boys, and the shift in plans about turning their basement into a full-fledged apartment for me to rent, the time has come for me to find another place to hang my hat.

Raymond, being the angel that he is, immediately told me, upon my need to shift addresses, “We will figure it out.”  What I didn’t know was that, also immediately, he had sent word to his current roommate that I was looking for a new address, and that if I moved in with them for a while, we could all save money and find a larger place to share in the very near future.  The two of them are currently not on a lease, and are living month-to-month where they are.  While it’s a little apartment with almost no back yard or an allowance for pets such as the dog we both want, it does have a proximity to the MAX line and major bus lines that is super convenient.  Having spent a great deal of time there, I’ve come to learn the quirks of their apartment, including the way that the neighbors are, what his roommate is like, and their living habits.  While it’s not ideal, as the space will be tight, I accepted their offer to come live with them.

For the first time, in a long time, I am going to be living with my boyfriend.

For the last month or so, while I’ve been wrapping my head around this upcoming movement, I’ve been paying particular attention to Raymond’s emotional status about it all.  He’s never lived with a boyfriend before.  He doesn’t know what it’s going to be like having his beau in his bed every night.  Already I’m aware that I’ll need to be vigilant about giving him his own space and time, even within the small confines of what will be our little home.  I’m worried about being a burden on him, and that we will have some inevitable friction from time to time because of the space.  Given our track record, though – only one major fight in the year and a half we’ve been together – I think we will be able to manage.  As long as he’s honest with me about how he’s feeling, and I am reciprocating, we should be okay.  I mean, who knows, it could work out really, really well.

I’m also really apprehensive because of my past.  Once again, my past experiences are dictating my emotions about a current situation, and I need to recognize that.  I gave up my life and lived with Thomas.  I gave up my life and lived with Nathaniel.  I’ve always been a roommate, and only very infrequently lived on my own. I was a roommate in Lakewood, CO.  I was a roommate in Denver, CO.  I was a live-in lover and houseboy when I first moved here to Portland, OR.  I have been a housemate in a tiny two-bedroom home for the last year and a half.  Now, I’m going to be, once again, sharing space with two other people.  While I’m very okay with being a roommate, I’m also keenly aware that this is not how a typical 37-year-old lives.  I mean, maybe it’s the new age and new economy that we are in, but at this point, I should have at least my own apartment, my own set of keys, my own utility bills.  Because of circumstance and life choices, though, I do not have these things, and I’ve been trying to find a way to resolve these emotions inside myself.

I’ve also been deeply worried about my past repeating itself in terms of relationships going awry when we live together.  This has happened every time I’ve lived with the man who held my heart, and I do not want it to happen with Raymond.  I need to be reminded that my past is not my present or future, and a recent adventure that he and I took helped to underscore this for me.

This past week, Ray and I flew back to Denver together.  I had wanted to take him on a trip to the Mile High City with me after we got back from Hawaii last January.  I wanted to show him my old haunts and introduce him to some of my old friends up there.  We ended up staying with my friend Amanda, a dear friend of mine that I’ve known for nearly thirty years.  She is my age, and while our paths have been shared quite a few times over the course of three decades, she seemingly has her life more together than I do.  She has a home of her own.  She has a decent credit score.  She owns her car.  She has a stable, normal, adult life, with stable, normal, adult issues (though she’d never attest to that fact).  I am envious of her for these things, and while she sees what Ray and I have as relationship goals for herself, I see her life and her world and think that, perhaps, I truly am a mess and need to get myself together and grow up along those same lines.

It was good to show him where I had lived, and the places that I had hung out when I lived in Denver.  Truth be told, I kept peeking around corners to see if I’d run into any old ghosts, old emotions, and old regrets while we were there.  I had been thinner, a little more crazy, and a lot more loose and fast with myself and the fellas I’d hung out with when I lived there.  At that point in my life,  I was still very much running from my past.  I’d slingshot myself into Denver in a mad and furious drive across the country from Maine, trying to escape the depression and anxiety that my life back there had dealt me.  I was not facing down the darkness of my early gay years.  I was not facing the implosion that my marriage to Nathaniel had become.  I was not facing the fears of growing older, of being in control of my life, or of taking responsibility for my actions.  I simply kept running.  Denver, with its explosive nighttime thunderstorms, dry and oppressive heat, and hundreds of miles of mountain trails to disappear on, gave me ample spaces and corners to avoid being Thomas as much as I wanted to.

I didn’t really run into any of the shadows that I was expecting on this last trip.  What I did find, however, was a group of friends and acquaintances that I’d drawn close to in my time in Denver who not only were very happy to see me again, but were also quick to point out just how happy I was.  They all loved Ray, as I thought they might, but what truly stuck with me was how much they simply wanted to know I was okay.  I was moved by their excitement for us, especially when we talked about this upcoming shared living experience.  Every single one of my friends who I got to see were genuinely happy for me, and thought that Ray and I made a really great couple.  I found myself full of pride in both Raymond and my decision to let him into my life.

It was also exponentially clear to me just how much I’d changed since I’d left Denver.  I have grown up, and I have come into myself in ways that I would have never thought possible when I was there.  Portland has been transformative for me, and continues to be.  While I am still a little apprehensive about this next step that Ray and I are taking, I do remain optimistic.  I’ve learned how to speak with a truth and power that I’ve never had before now.  I am thankful and full of gratitude in ways that resonate deep within me.  I remain humbled and awestruck by the ways that this relationship with Raymond keeps redefining what it means to be in Love.

Placement

The sun was beaming down as the bus I was on cruised over the Ross Island Bridge towards the garage.  At the pinnacle of the bridge, one of the tallest to span the Willamette River here in Portland, Oregon, I could see two of Oregon’s highest mountains.  Mt. Hood, the iconic pointed dormant volcano off to the south east, has been gracing my views from the driver’s seat daily since taking this job.  She is the closest to Portland, and the details you can see of the mountain are pretty fantastic.  To the northwest is Mt. St. Helen’s, also covered in a thick blanket of snow.  I sat there, gazing upon them, and got this very odd feeling in my gut.  After a moment of pondering, the best I could describe it as being like was homesickness.

For some reason, those mountains, and the breathlessness that I feel when I get to enjoy them in my view, had me thinking about all of the places I’ve been to over the last decade.

2004 saw me living in Maine.

2005 was us (Nathaniel and myself) moving back to New Hampshire, while I earned my teaching certification.

2006 sent me to England.

2008 brought me back.

2010 had me living back in Maine.

2011 send me to Colorado.

2013 kicked me to Portland, Oregon.

2014 has me here still, and still in amazement, still settling in.

What I can’t, for the life of me, is understand fully just how I got this far away from where I grew up.  The thousands of miles I’ve covered, the people I’ve met, the connections I’ve made all seem to be finally coming into focus.  It’s as if I’m finally not feeling like an object that one might send flying from a slingshot.  The whiplash of all that movement has come to a pause, and is now catching up to me.

Today, Ray and I will be taking off on a hike.  We haven’t decided whether it’ll be the coast, or the Columbia Gorge, but we do know we want to get out of town.  I have a feeling I’m going to be pondering this weird feeling in my guts, and trying to make sense of it all.  I do get the feeling that I’m putting down some semblance of roots here in this place, and maybe it’s that – that sense of grounding, of placement, that has me feeling strange.  It’s been so damn long since I stood in one place for any length of time.  With a job, a decent home, and a person of interest in my life again, suddenly staying in one place isn’t as scary as it may have once been.  I’m not running away from anything anymore, either.  That might have something to do with this too.

It’s Been A While

So much has happened since my last post on here.  SO much, that I don’t know where to begin.  I suppose, then, I’ll just take a sip of coffee and start from where I am now.

I’ve been spending time getting settled in my new home with landlords Bil and Brandon.  These guys are a couple I met in Denver, who moved to Portland shortly after I did.  They got here, got set up in an apartment, and had me over for a few meals and some time spent as things with Caleb and myself unwound.  Bil took a liking to me from the start, and wanted to do something that would help me get out from under the black cloud my life had been under since last July.  In one swoop, he offered me a place in the new house that Brandon and he were buying, with a very, very reasonable rent, and a long-term plan of making an apartment in the structure that would be my space for me to inhabit and thrive, again for a very reasonable amount of rent.  As I have managed to land a job, and now am making an income, I can take this leap forward with assurance and pride of having lived through a pretty weird stretch of time.

Things in my life beyond home-life have been good, too.  It’s been a strange adjustment feeling like I’ve moved away from some sort of strange circle that encapsulates the connections I have – they all tend to linger in and around one area of town and not venture out from there.  Still, it’s up to me to make the effort to keep up the ties, and keep up the conversations that have kept me afloat for months now.  I will.

I think, perhaps, one of the things I’ve been struggling with most is patience with myself.  I’m used to being flexible and fast with my adjustments.  Now, as I’m a bit older, it takes more time for me to come around to a thought or idea or situation.  I am not stubborn so much – more like a bit more calculating, or a little less able to bend.  Not as supple.  More like a fir that has changed from sapling to young mature tree.  I can flex in the stronger breezes, but I’m less likely to adjust my shape and size and now have a solid core from which to grow.

Poverty Line

Last Friday, I got word from the bus company that I will not be starting training on Monday.  The reason is not because I failed as a candidate for the job, or that the conditional job offer got rescinded.  No, it’s far more ridiculous than that.  The reason I cannot start the job yet is because of a mandatory background check.  Because I have lived across multiple states over the last five years, the Federal Bureau of Investigation was handling my background and security check.  Because of the recent government shut down, my background check was not completed in the time that is normally allowed for these things to happen.  Because of this delay, I am still not a productive (and tax-paying) member of society.  To the republicans who held up the entire show so they could have a little tantrum – and still get their paychecks in the process – you have shot at least one citizen in the foot.

This isn’t a political rant, though.  This is far more involved than that.

I have been on the job market for now seven months.  First, it all began with hunting, applying, nail-biting, and getting nowhere. I spent four months looking, four months putting my heart and mind on the line, hoping someone would find value in me, in my credentials, and in the vocation of teaching that brings me such joy.  September 1 came and went, and still I had nothing.  Still, I applied to teach as a substitute, only to be told, in no uncertain terms, and directly to my face by a human resources representative at the local public school offices, that Portland does not need any English teachers.

I will never forget going home, head slung low, and feeling about as worthless as I’ve ever felt.  I’ve been rejected before, but to have the thing that gives me such joie de vive, the thing that is central to who and what I am kicked in the guts like that was a huge pill to swallow.  I had my cry, had my little tantrum, and quickly proceeded to dust myself off and look around me for other options.  Not having a job was not an option for me, and I knew it.  I knew I had other skills, other qualifications, and could do a damn good job at just about anything I set my mind to, if someone would offer me the chance.  I simply needed to look elsewhere.

I applied for multiple private industry jobs, only to find that their HR departments were a giant maw of nothing, with the constant refrain being they’ve got a billion applicants and zero time to sift through them.  I knew from the experience that friends were reporting to me that the private employment world was a jungle of bullshit and resume building exercises.  It all was soul-crushing, and something I would struggle at.

I began looking at government jobs because, as I found out, the hiring process seemed to make a lot more sense.  In each step of the application process for those jobs, with the USPS, the Treasury Department, and any other number of federal and state opportunities, I would receive notification of the status of my application.  I also found that I would have to take qualifying tests for each job, which meant that my actual skills would be tested, and regardless of who I knew, I could find a way to make those skills count above and beyond my contacts in the offices.  I found, generally speaking, that applying for government jobs was far more egalitarian.  Anyone can apply, and anyone can be brought into the hiring process, depending solely on their skill set.  Not to mention the stability and security of these jobs, the empowerment they offer candidates looking for work – knowing future growth areas, pay increases, and the like – made applying and seeking out a public-sector job feel more natural, more humane to me.

This is how I ended up applying for and landing the job with TriMet, the bus company here in Portland, Oregon.  They are funded through state and federal channels, and thus have a hiring process that mirrors those same techniques used by the government jobs.  I was tested.  I was interviewed.  The process itself takes longer, but in the end, I felt I had the ability to speak to my strengths and skills in a far more balanced and honest way.

Throughout all of this, though, I have run out of money.

I have been subsisting on the food that my ex has brought into the house, and trying desperately not to eat too much, or be a burden on him in any way.  The fact he’s allowed me to stay on in his house, use his resources here, and the like, speaks volumes to the kind of person he is.  The relationship between us may have not worked out on one level, but that is nothing compared to his character and decency with regards to treating me with dignity and respect.  It has been a struggle, though, for me, because I hate being this person.  I hate being this kind of a charity case, who can only do things like tidy the house and attend to the dishes and the like because it’s all I have the resources for.  I’d love nothing better than to take him out to dinner, to thank him properly for taking care of me, even though he doesn’t have to, nor has he ever had to.

Still, at the end of it all, I’ve got nothing in my bank account.  I still have bills, and I still have responsibilities, and I have no means of meeting them.

What has happened, though, has been such an extraordinary thing for me.  I have let it slip a couple of times to those who know me that I’m in dire straits with regards to this situation.  Even letting that out of me, admitting my weakness, admitting my failure, has been such a challenge.  Stiff upper lip and pragmatic New Englander that I am, I have found it so damn hard to even mention anything to anyone, let alone ask for help.  When these contacts and friends have stepped up and actually done something to help me along, well, suffice to say I can feel myself imploding.

On one hand, I am overwhelmed by the generosity.  I am totally and utterly blown away by the kindness, whether it’s taking me out for a coffee, all the way to helping me with a bill and lending money to me with the promise that I pay it forward rather than pay them back.  I have never, ever had to ask for help like this, nor did I expect any sort of help when I’ve mentioned the predicament I’ve been in for some time now.  I simply found myself letting off steam because, frankly, this situation is all that has consumed me as of late, and it’s all I can think about.  Getting myself back into the workforce, out of this house, and on my feet again is all I want, and all I can focus on.  All else simply falls to the wayside.  So, when I’m out with friends or having a chat back and forth on any number of social networks, it’s inevitable that someone will ask how the job hunt is going, or how I’m doing, and I delicately and with this sort of nonchalance mention what I’m dealing with.

I find myself putting on such a good face with it all, making it all seem okay so as not to worry anyone, or upset anything.  The last thing I want those I’m making connections with is to think I’m unable to keep my issues to myself, or that my life is as big of a mess as it truly is.  It’s just not polite, nor is it the kind of light I want to be cast in when making a first impression.  Which, in a way, leads me to my next point.

On the other hand, when I have received a gift from someone as an act of generosity and kindness, I find myself getting very, very upset.  My defenses go flying high, and it’s all I can do not to simply refuse the generosity.  What they have done is smack really hard and really fast right into the wall that is my pride.  I am a man of independent means.  I am a person who has spent his entire life being judged and being valued by my productivity and self-sustanance.  There have been rare times, when I was much younger, where I would need someone’s help, but as I’ve grown older, I have prided myself on being able to figure my way out of a situation, regardless of how dire it is, and in the end, come out on top, with some sort of self-accomplishment.  It has always filled me with pride to be like this, but as my pride has become weakened through an actual loss of nutrients to my body, as I’ve found myself dealing with the effects of malnutrition and anxiety, having that sort of martyrdom is a fool’s errand.

The fact is I have had to accept the help and generosity because I simply can not get sick.  I can not hurt myself anymore simply because I’m too damn proud to accept the help.

This whole experience has awakened me to the plight of the homeless and jobless that seem to exist on every corner in this city that is now my home.  I find myself avoiding contact with these people simply because it scares me how close I am to living just as they do.  What if I had no home?  What if I didn’t have the connections I have?  It’s totally possible I could end up like them, and that fact scares me.  Just how close I’ve been living to that line between myself and the homeless in this town is a huge wakeup call to me.

It also blows my mind to think I’m not the only one in this situation.  I know I’m not.  There are countless people here, in America, going day to day wondering about where their next meal is coming from.  Some of them hold jobs.  Some of them are productive members of our society.  Some of them simply put on a good face and give off the vibe that they’ve got it all figured out when, like me, when you simply brush against the veneer, it becomes painfully clear that not all is right or okay in their world.

I will be okay.  I will survive.  I will move away from the very, very dark thoughts that have run through my mind time and time again over the past few weeks.  I will land this job for real, begin my training, and finally get settled and established in this city on the Willamette.  I won’t, however, forget this experience.  I won’t forget just how dark this has all been.  It still might get darker, and there may still be walls and barriers that I need to consider and find my way through.  For now, though, my appreciation for the generosity, kindness, and honest concern for my well-being as seen through the connections and friends that I have made thus far is teaching me what it truly means to be a good human being.  I need to find a way to square my pride, to stop putting on a show simply because it’s how I was raised and where I came from, and work harder at simply being Thom.

Kindness

The past month has been one of the worst for me in terms of anxiety and stress over the situation I currently find myself in.  The financial support that the ex had been offering came to and end on September 1.  Since then, I’ve been on hyperdrive trying to land a job and find my own way forward and out of this predicament.  I’ve got bills stacking, and the pressure of starting out on my own is building.  I’ve developed eczema and find myself digging at my own skin in the middle of the night on more occasions than I care to admit.  I have had to really dial back my caloric intake simply because I can’t afford it.  In short, it’s been a very trying month.

Beyond all of that, though, there have been brilliant radiances of amazingness in the clouds and turmoil of this place I find myself at.  I have been able to connect with some of the best people here in Portland.  I’ve made friends with a guy named Dan, a health fan and person with a perspective I can align with.  I’ve met Jim, another local who appreciates the peace and kindness that can be found here.  I’ve met Marc, a man who has given me an outlet for thoughts that I rarely get to express.  These guys, and the others that have come into and pass out of my life in the last thirty days have been extraordinary to me.

It’s now, as the end of the month bears down on me, that I’m realizing the threads that bind them together.  In fact, they are the threads that have bound so many people I have been fortunate to meet and share time with, both here and in the many other places I’ve lived.  I am truly surrounded by people who are loving, caring, and above all, kind.

I have had help from complete and total strangers.  I am connected to many people across many channels, and it is because of this that I have had a chance to interact with more people now than would have ever been possible only a few short years ago.  On occasion and out of the blue, these people I share with and connect can sense when I’m in a dire strait, and it’s then that I have been amazed with the help and support they’ve given me, a total and utter stranger.

What this means, for me, is this:  I have a lot to pay forward.  When I finally do connect with a job, and start to get my life back into order, I fully intend on making an impact on someone else in the same fashion.  Need a couch to crash on? I have one.  Need a few bucks to tide you over?  I’d gladly give you some, with no strings.  I want to be that guy.  I want to be the man who can and does help to the best of his abilities.  This bout of joblessness has taught me that it’s not all about the preservation of self.  I am, in fact, part of a wider community, full of people who are amazing and wonderful and deserving of as much support as I can offer.

All of this is coming at at time when I’m exploring my own gratitude towards the people in my past who have made a huge positive impact on me.  Suddenly, I’m finding myself reaching out, back over time, to these people who have gone out of their way, have said or done something that hit me in a certain way, and have altered the course of this journey I am on.  I am thankful to them, and with each piece of writing I do as part of this project, I’m finding deep and amazing emotions that I have been unable to unearth until now.  It is these nuggets of gratitude, and the impact of expressing them, that has made yet an even greater impact upon me.

Kindness is at the heart of it all. I have learned to be kind, be humble, and most of all, see that I’m not just a lonely spaceman on this planet.  I’m part of something larger.  I have a role in it all, and once my house is in order, I will gladly take up the reins.

Biking

When I was a young man, I used to live in a very small town in south-central Maine.  Our farm was on a small back road, where our neighbors were out of sight.  Traffic would usually happen in the morning between 6a and 8a, and again from 4p till about 6p.  In the in-between times, there was hardly more than a tractor going by, an occasional jogger, and sometimes a biker.  It was really, really quiet.  As I grew up, I learned how to ride a bike, and as soon as I could get permission from my parents, I started riding on this quiet back-country road.  Jaunts would be short, to start, but over time, and as I gained their trust to obey traffic laws and pay attention to cars, I began trekking out across town.  I’d go visit my grandparents.  I’d ride to school.  Eventually, I’d ride across town, over two massive hills, to my best friend’s house.

He and I would take off on our bikes and go all over the place.  It was not unlike us to set off in the morning around 9a and not get back until the sun went down around 9p in the summer.  All day long, pedaling everywhere, all over the places we chose.  Once, he joined with my family and some family friends, and we set off on an epic bike ride of over 60 miles, which when you account for the fact our group included two moms and a bunch of kids between ages 10 and 15, was quite a feat.  Still, even after that ride, getting around by bike was never something I complained about, nor did I even think about.  I just did it.

In the spring, after the snow had melted, the first few rides were the toughest.  I had fallen out of shape over the winter, but it wasn’t long before I was all over the roads again, thinking nothing of the hills, navigating over and under wherever I needed to.

The last time I was on a bike was when I lived in England, back in 2006-2008.  I bought a trusty red bike there, and on occasion, would set off all around the North Norfolk coastal region.  Sometimes, I’d clock upwards of 40 miles in one day.  I loved exploring on my bike, and found the region to be pleasant by pedal.

Today, five years later, I set off on my bike for a little trek.  I wanted to get out and explore some of the area around Portland.  At first, I pulled up Google Maps and dropped a pin at the coast.  80 miles one way seemed a bit much.  So did 60.  Then, I figured I’d just set off on one of the major roads that went down the Willamette river, along the border between Washington and Oregon, and see how far I’d get before turning around.

Below is a map of my ride:

 


View West Portland Exploration in a larger map

I was pleased with most of this trek. The initial part was great, as I like riding up to St. John’s, one of my favorite areas of Portland. And the St. John’s Bridge is always a fun thing to cross. I didn’t like, however, how busy Rte 30 was. It’s THE road that runs along the Willamette, so it’s got a ton of commercial traffic. Probably the worst part of the ride, though, was Cornelius Pass Road. If I had it to do all over again, I would have found a way to bypass this road. It’s narrow, and ODOT saw fit to corrugate the pavement along the edges of the road, so whenever I had to pull the side for cars, I was shaking myself nearly apart. And, it’s a HUGE cut-through for Beaverton folks. As in, I think most of Beaverton was out on the road today and just HAD to get to the river. At one point, as I was hugging as close as possible to the corrugated strip of pavement without hitting it, a dude in a truck thought he should lay on his horn as he passed me. The ENTIRE time he was passing me.

I know, I know. I’m not in a motorized anything. I’m less than. You reminded me.

After that, though, and once I got onto Skyline, it was back to a very pleasant ride. I stopped to enjoy some wild blackberries along the side of the road, which were the perfect pick-me-up at that point (it had been predominantly all uphill once I’d gotten off Rte. 30). I met some other bikers, but they were all decked out in their lycra and racing equipment looking all flashy and whatever. I was in cut-off jean shorts and a sweaty cotton tee, so I wasn’t worthy of a hello, for the most part. Meh. More blackberries for me!

The downhill was awesome near the end. I got to fly through some tunnels and through some amazing canopy of trees that are part of the Northwest area of Portland. Just beautiful!

I hadn’t been out on a bike in years for any length of time, and today, I rediscovered my respect for distance bikers. My mom is one, and she can outpace me every day. I also have a deeper respect for triathletes/ironman folks. Biking isn’t easy, but when done right, it can be really exhilarating. Today was exhilarating for me!

Another Day, A Running Milestone

Dreams (Jon O’ Bir Remix) – Reeves

Today was a really good run.  I got out of the house a bit later than I wanted to, and already the air was warming up from what had been a relatively cool morning.  I didn’t set any sort of goals.  I didn’t have any real direction.  I just knew I needed to put feet to pavement.  I needed to add up some more miles, and get through some of the thoughts in my head.

I made it to Mt. Tabor Park today, on 60th Avenue, 54 blocks east of me and about 20 blocks south.  As I got to the entrance to the park, I hit five miles, and a giant smile broke out over my face.  I had always wanted to run to the park, but after a bike ride there once, and realizing how far away it really was, I was a bit unsure I’d make it.

What I’ve come to realize is that in order to really enjoy the run, I need to keep it simple.  Look forward to the next mile marker, the next half mile, even the next block. And then the next.  And then the next.  And when the song in my ears hits just right, and I stop feeling my feet hit the ground, and I can dive deeper into whatever is stopping up my mind, then I know I’m doing it right.

Of course, then there’s the little drip of dopamine…adrenaline…whatever it is that causes the rush of Runner’s High.  When that hits…well, I can do anything, go anywhere, and I wear the biggest smile on my face.

IMG_1775

Mt. Tabor Park, Portland, Oregon