It was always a mystery.

Image credit: Flickr user psychbird

There is this elusive state of mind that people who exercise regularly often talk about.  They say that you eventually stop thinking about how much your knees hurt and how out of breath you are and how much you want to stop and you just move.  You, somehow, transcend all the complaining your body.   I’d never been to this magical place, and in fact wanted to call bullshit many a time, until a few days ago.

I’ve been exercising a lot this summer.  I bought a membership to my local recreation center and have been swimming laps, running on the elliptical, lifting weights and taking some fabulous work out classes.  On top of that, I’m trying to train to run a 5k.  I know that probably doesn’t sound like a lot to those of you who run often, but it’s going to be a big deal for me.  I don’t think I’ve ever run even a mile, let alone more than that.  But anyway, even with all the exercise I’ve been doing that mystical place seemed to be beyond me.  I finally found it, underneath the water.

I’ve always been a fan of the water, but just recently began swimming laps after taking a swim class in college.  I love the feel of being in the pool, from the smell of it to the slick of the water on my skin.  To me, there’s something wonderful about just being underwater and being completely within yourself.  The sounds of the outside are muffled and it’s just you and that line on the bottom of the pool.  Most of the time I swim laps, though, I’m often so concerned with my stroke, or my breathing, or the people I’m sharing the lane with that I don’t completely get into that zone.  Until a couple weeks ago, when I finally reached it.   The movement of my body is just that, movement.  It does not hurt, it is not a chore or seemingly impossible to finish, it is simply motion.   I am totally within myself, sometimes I am thinking about what book I am reading, sometimes I am thinking about what I’m going to post on the blog.  But I’m never really thinking about the fact that this is a workout.

Nothing is quite as satisfying as getting out of the pool after an hour of swimming laps.  Not every work out is as successful as that – sometimes I my pattern gets off, or I get worried that I’m not doing enough.  Suddenly I have more confidence in myself, because I know that there isn’t something defective about me that keeps me from getting into a workout.

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Cat shirts?!

I love cat shirts.

So I will be purchasing this.  It is adorable.

Anchor

My grandfather passed away the night before last, and unfortunately, because of something family disagreements it has been a very long time since we had spent any real time together.  We used to have so much fun together and I really regret

all those years I didn’t spend with him.  There’s absolutely nothing I can do about it now, except never let it happen again.  Your family is given to you, don’t waste that.  I suppose you have to learn that for yourself.

I don’t want to dwell on what I cannot change right now, so instead I will tell you a story about my grandfather that always makes me smile.  When I was little, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what exactly my grandfather’s tattoo was of.  I just couldn’t tell!  I didn’t want to ask, I wanted to figure it out for myself.  So I stared at it and stared at it until I finally knew what it was.  A Christmas tree!  Except I was completely confused as to why anyone would want to get a tattoo of a Christmas tree.  So I asked him, “Grandpa Frank, why do you have a tattoo of a Christmas tree?”  His face fell, “Hmm… I didn’t,” he began.  “It’s an anchor.”  Oops!  And even though he probably doesn’t like that story as much as I do, it’s one of my favorites.

Grandpa Frank

Grandpa Frank,

Shit.  I  hate this.  I can’t believe I’m doing this again.  All I know is that I shouldn’t have let whatever was going on between Gummy and Mom get between you and me, but it was hard, you know?   We were thrown into it and I guess it’s neither of our faults, but I wish that it had gone differently.

We had something special, you and me.  I was so close to you when I was  little.  Look at our smiles in this picture!  This was such a different experience than when Grandmom died.  I was there, holding her hand.  I held her while she  took her last breath, there was absolutely no doubt in my mind that she was gone.  Even though it’s still so hard to believe, being there helped.  But now I know exactly what Kaitlin was talking about when she said it doesn’t feel real.  When you aren’t there to see it happen, when you can’t touch the body or at the very least see it, there is no closure.

I can’t even remember the last time we talked on the phone.

I guess I learned my lesson the hard way.  It’s never worth it.   This is not worth whatever it was that kept us apart.  I’m sorry.  So so so sorry.

Love ya.

Leslie

High school throw back.

When I graduated high school, everyone always told me, “Your high school friends are going to change.  You probably won’t all stay friends.  You won’t even recognize each other by the time you’re graduating again.”  I never believed anyone when they said this.  My friends and I?  We had something different.

Sure, going to college changed a lot of things.  We were no longer inseparable.  Our group wasn’t quite so cohesive; there were smaller groups that got together more often.  Even so, there was always a connection there.  There was a knowledge that we had shared so much of our lives together that no matter where we were, we could go back to the way things were.

That first summer after our freshman year of college was difficult.  Things were very new and very different.  Our worlds had been turned upside down and the way we acted and reacted to the world was transforming.  It wasn’t so easy to get everyone together anymore, but still we kept up with one another.  We kept tabs on what was going on in each other’s lives.  We still were something you could call friends.

After that first summer, things eased back into a pattern, though our friendship had absolutely changed.  Not all of us returned every summer, some of us did a better job keeping up than others.  Now that we have all graduated college, many of us have returned home to our parents’ house, because we don’t quite know where to go yet.  Our lives are changing again, into something that almost resembles adult life, but the more we spend time together, the more I realize just how fortunate we are to have this last summer.

Tonight we got together to eat dinner, swim in the pool and play cards.  The music station we listened to kept playing music that brought us back to our four years in high school.   We reminisced, played the card game “Tic” for 3 hours straight.  We drank some wine and ate a delicious dinner.  Everything about the night reminded me of our weekends during school, but this time we were a little bit older.  Wiser… might be pushing it, but it was something amazing to see.  We made it through these four years and I know now that no matter where we are, we will always be able to pick up a phone and catch up like  no time has passed.

My former roommate said to me tonight, “You smile so much more when you’re home.”  I don’t really do it on purpose, but I know what she means.  At school I felt pulled in so many directions – when I was at school, I felt like I was letting down my mom, dad and Z and so on.  You see the pattern?  Even though I’m still far away from my dad, 3/4 isn’t so bad.   I feel as complete as I ever will and that definitely leads to smiles.

Bike rides are better than the gym.

I tried really hard to go to the gym this morning.  (No, really!)  It was not in the cards, however.  Someone really didn’t want me to get on an elliptical, so I got home all bummed that my gymscapades ended so quickly.  It made me really frustrated and angry too, even though most of what happened was completely out of my control, and I felt like I had to get all that energy out.  So I pulled my little sister’s bike out (my bike’s gears are all messed up) and raised the seat and went for a ride.  I haven’t been on a bike ride probably since I got my car a year ago.  Before that, I was completely dependent on my bike for travel around town. It felt fabulous to get back  on a bike!

I just rode around my neighborhood.  It’s fairly small, so I was amazed when I came up on all these houses I’d never seen before.  Now, I’ve lived in this neighborhood almost my entire life.  We moved here when I was 6 and my mom married my step dad.   I moved back this summer after 1 year of graduate school.  I’m sure I would have remembered these houses!

I think this is my dream house:

It’s just my style and it’s the lake in the back of neighborhood.  It’s the perfect size and I love that it’s shingled.  I would love to live here one day.  Isn’t it just gorgeous?  I hope it’s  equally beautiful on the inside.  A house this style might be pretty common in other parts of the country, but not around here, and definitely not in my neighborhood.

All the crepe myrtles were in bloom last week and they were absolutely beautiful!  Unfortunately everything is browning up now with the lack of rain and I didn’t get a chance to take any pictures of lovely crepe myrtles when they were at their prettiest.  I did manage to find a few that were still quite colorful.  Take a look:

I’d say that’s a colorful flower.  They’re just so beautiful, I want lots of them in my yard when I have my own yard in which I can grow things.

Check out this other house I found.  It’s right across from the shingled beauty up above and is very odd architecture for anywhere, not just this area:

I’m not sure that this photo even does the house any justice.  There is a sign over the door that says Sanctuary and it certainly does have that old-world feel.  This house also has a beautiful view, from what I could tell from the road.

I definitely felt better after my bike ride.  I let all that frustration get out and in the meantime got to do some exploring.  One other thing that cheered me up?  Wearing my new running shoes:

Yup, those are my very own gigantic feet!  Aren’t they pretty?  But most of all, they’re going to help my poor flat feet with overpronation and keep me running.   My feet feel fabulous and I can’t imagine working out without them and it’s been less than 24-hours!

The rest of the day involves 15cent shrimp and you can’t get  much better than that, so I’ll see you later!

Why bridges?

Welcome to At the Bridges, my new blog where I can write about anything (and everything).  I have one other blog, the book review themed Regular Rumination that I love dearly.  Though I originally intended that blog to be about everything (and books!), it has transformed into a blog that is just about books.  I’m perfectly okay with this, but I started to want to write about lots of things that had nothing to do with what I was reading and thus At the Bridges was born.

I don’t want At the Bridges to become another commitment.  I just want it to be a place that allows me to document my life when it needs to be documented.  It might just be a picture, it might be a way too long post about something very silly.  There might not be anyone who wants to read it, but this is what I need.

I want to talk a little bit about the name of the blog.  There’s something about a bridge, about knowing that while you’re crossing it you really aren’t anywhere, you are in between, that I am in love with.  It embodies everything I love about travel in one structure.  You are moving from one place to another, from one experience to another, from one life to another.   This summer, while I was driving over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel (one of several important bridges in my life) I was  reminded just how beautiful this world is.  Bridges let you remember that, too; you’re so high up in the air, everything is perfect and pristine, even if you’re overlooking factories.

So here I am.  I’m at a bridge, looking out at the life I’m creating for myself.  I hope you’ll join me.

Header photo from flickr user eqqman under Creative Commons license.