Yesterday, during a run, I fell down. It was especially unfortunate that I took a tumble, since before that point, my outing had been one of the most successful I'd ever had. The fact is - I'm not a very good runner. It's not for lack of training, or lack of trying. I'm just slow. I always have been. No amount of long-distance treks or track work has seemed to change that fact. In twenty years. Maybe it's because I have hips. Or boobs. Or my right foot is slightly pigeon toed. Maybe, despite the fact that I've been taught proper pose form versus heel striking, I still haven't mastered the technique that would excel me to greater distances and faster times. But still, I run. Slowly, but surely, from here to there. And some days, are better than others.
This was one of those days. I started out up a decent sized hill, knowing that the majority of the rest of the journey would be down hill. That if I could start out strong, I could finish with ease. And there's nothing better than the first few runs of the Fall weather., am I right? Cool and crisp and clean and full of possibility. It was just starting to get dark. People moved about around me like shadows. Home from work. Out with their dogs. Carrying their groceries.
I made it up the hill with little trouble. And began to pick up speed as I turned the corner onto flatter, slightly sloping downward concrete. I went faster and faster. My pony tail bobbing in the wind. "I'm getting better," I thought. "I can do this," I rejoiced. I felt free.
I ran down three more blocks and then rounded a second corner onto a steep down hill stretch. I might even have laughed out loud. This was a great run. A really truly great run. When your legs fly beneath you without effort. Like they aren't even attached to the rest of your body. But then it happened. I tripped on the elevated sidewalk and went flying in the air, somersaulting into the grass, and landing with a crash against the tire of a parked car. Thump.
A guy who must have been running behind me stopped to see if I was alright. "Are you okay?" he asked alarmed and concerned. "Just go," I snapped, almost with contempt. "I'm fine. I'm fine. Keep going." And then instantly, in addition to feeling hurt and embarassed, I also felt like a shit head. I'd been unnecessarily mean and short with a stranger who simply stopped to assist me. To show some common human decency to a fellow person that may be in need. "I'm such an asshole," I thought to myself as I shook my head in disgust.
But - was I okay? Yes. Skinned shin. Skinned and barely bleeding forearm. But I was fine. It could have been much much worse. Landing on my face or neck. Or rolling my ankle or landing on my arm. But no, I was fine. For some reason, I started to whimper anyway, then stopped myself. "No crying, you're fine." I got back up on my feet and continued to run. This time slowly, carefully, tentatively. I was fine. But really - I wasn't.
When I got back home, I walked into the apartment and straight into the bedroom. "I'm just going to lie down for awhile by myself for a bit," I called to my boyfriend. "Of course, honey," he said understanding. (He's always understanding like that. It's almost annoying - since I never seem to understand anything.) I lay down on the bed on top of the covers, stuffing my face into the deep comforter and began to sob. I cried and cried and cried. And tried to comprehend why. I mean - I just fell down. But I was fine. Truly. Why did I feel so awful? Because I suck at running? Because I've always been slow? Because I've always been clumsy and stubbing my toe or tripping on a run is pretty much par for the course? Because it's just scary to lose control?
My boyfriend called to me from another room: "Babes - do you know where the cell phone charger is?" "Didn't I say I needed to lie down alone for a bit?" "Yeah, but where's the charger?" (Sometimes its really hard to live with someone. Time alone, is never time alone. Especially when you really need it.) Something made me want to call my mother. What is it about feeling vulnerable or sad or hurt and needing your mother? I texted her. "I just fell down on a run. I'm fine but it sucks you know? How are you?" Was it not the greatest thing as a child to fall down and get a scratch or owie or booboo and have your mother kiss it all better? That is such a hallmark image of parenthood. Comforting the shaken child. Wouldn't it be great as an adult to be allowed to fall down and have someone always there to make things right again? And a peck on the knee actually made it all better?
Now, I'm not saying I couldn't have called my boyfriend into the room and told him what happened and he wouldn't have been there for me. Told me he was sorry it happened. Offered to get me some water or tried to cheer me up. But I just wanted to sulk you know? Feel sorry for myself. Be a baby. I did pick my self up off the ground. I did finish my run and get myself home. I did wash the dirt off. Isn't that how the saying goes: "I get knocked down, but I get up again." Or how bout "brush your shoulders off?" But sometimes its hard to be an adult. Get up every day. And go to work. And feed yourself. And pay your bills. And take care of others. And go to the dentist. And the doctor. And grocery shop. And find parking. And be a good person. And fall down. And mess up. And fail. And then have to pick yourself up again. And again. And again.
I want to end this on a more positive note. Something uplifting, but not cliche. A silver lining in the cloud. But nothing springs to mind. I think I just want to honor the fact that we all try really hard. And we don't always succeed. And yet we keep on forging ahead. And its okay to fall down. And feel really shitty about it. Because it sucks. Falling down sucks.
Now...brush your shoulder off...