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As I mentioned in my first post, I am uploading some of my “best of” posts from other blogs.  This one was originally posted on Multiply, on May 20, 2006.

My friend M and I were discussing our marathons the other day at lunch. It’s a strange lunch conversation, marathoning. It turns out that not a lot of people have actually completed a marathon, and few of them can imagine a good reason for running twenty-six-point-two miles. Prior to that day in the office breakroom, when people would ask me, “Why? Why would you decide to run that far?” I would shrug my shoulders and say, “To prove that I could.” I thought it was very cavalier and amazing to say that. In truth, it takes a giant helping of bravado, a sprinkling of idiocy, and just a pinch of narcissism to say something that completely ridiculous.

That day, one of our colleagues asked M that dreaded question: “WHY?” And she answered, “For love.” My jaw dropped, and for just a moment, I almost reverted back to my racing days, where I planned my life around the long runs and obsessed over which Gu packet tasted best and made sure I’d worn my socks well before I put them on for an important race. I was almost appalled. I almost responded with self-righteous indignation. And then, I realized, I was relieved. Because in the end, I’d run the marathon for love, even though I didn’t want to admit it.

Both M and I have since learned the error of our ways; we would never run a marathon for love again. We’d both like to run a half marathon, and we’d like to do it for our own reasons, and not to make some stupid boy think we’re awesome. Because the finish line did not bring us love, not even for a short time. She has remained friends with the man who met her at the finish (with his new girlfriend in tow)—though he’s married with kids today. I have no idea what has happened to the man whose the love I hoped to gain by punishing my body in such an extreme way; I haven’t seen him since a month after the race.

And that conversation led me to think about this: What are some of the other ridiculous things that I’ve done for love? What skills or interests did I pick up because I wanted someone to think I was amazing? And I realized that even though the love affairs didn’t last, many of my current hobbies and interests came about from my need to be a silly straight girl and convince some guy that I was worthy of his affection by joining in one of his favorite activities.

There are some disasters in the list, starting with the marathon. Though I finished, I was woefully underprepared. I finished in an abysmal 7 hours, 31 minutes, and 34 seconds. My post-race flip-flops and warm clothing, which I’d dropped at the starting line, had been packed up with the lost and found items because the race director had assumed I wasn’t going to finish within the 8 hour time limit. I haven’t run consistently since because I couldn’t seem to enjoy the act of running for so long. Right now I am sitting in a coffee shop, writing this, and staring at the gravel path that encircles Duke’s East Campus. I’m longing to be out there, pounding the ground on this humid May evening, feeling the damp gravel dust as it sprays onto the back of my calves with every step. But my body’s not there anymore, and the frustration of being back at square one is almost more than I can bear when I do try to get out there.

There were other, smaller debacles, too. I toyed with the idea of converting to Catholicism, and later, Judaism. I considered becoming a Republican. I learned more about comic book characters than I ever thought possible. I spent several nights shivering in a tent and listening to the stories and snoring of the object of that week’s affection. I got lost on more than one hike with no food and not enough water. I had plenty of blisters because I was afraid to complain when I’d worn impractical shoes for an impromptu trek. I smoked cigarettes and got myself a couple of good cases of alcohol poisoning. I made out with my girlfriends in public places.

But if I’m honest with myself, I realize that there are so many good things I owe to loves that would not be. I learned how to kayak and rock climb. I started listening to Pearl Jam and the Barenaked Ladies and Dashboard Confessional. I went to Duke and I moved to Austin. I played a LOT of Texas Hold ‘Em. I can shag and salsa and swing. I volunteered for the political campaigns of some truly amazing and inspiring people. I got involved with HRC and learned to be a better ally to the LGBTQIA community. (Ha, isn’t that funny, the straight girl, chasing the straight boy, gets herself into the HRC? Well, as they say, the truth is stranger than fiction.)

The girl I used to be would end this post by saying, “And now that I’m all grown up, I’ll never get myself dragged into one of those disasters again.” I used to like to tie things up in neat little packages. Now I’m ok with things being a little messy (and yes, I have another failed romance to thank for that), so I know that I’ll probably take up something ridiculous, like archery or Motocross before all is said and done. And you know what? I’ll get some fabulous stories out of those experiences.

Since I can’t tie a pretty bow on the end of this post, I’ll just say this: I’m looking for a little adventure in my life these days. So if any of you know a cute boy who would like to go skydiving or climb Mt. Kilamanjaro or something, please send him my way and I’ll begin developing a crush on him right away.