This week, at Yoga Book Club, I had a sort-of epiphany. The leader was discussing meditation and asked whether any of us had entered such a state almost accidentally. I hadn’t said much all class (mainly because I hadn’t read the entire book), but this struck me, and I found my words filling the silent space. I realized that, while running the Pittsburgh Half Marathon, I had entered a state of complete bliss.
The days leading up to the race I was crabby, irritated and moody. I just didn’t feel prepared enough to run those 13.1 miles. I knew I had run races like this before, but this time was different. I couldn’t shake what was bothering me (though I had some theories). It wasn’t until after the race was over that I realized what was going on.
I needed to say goodbye to Pittsburgh.
For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been seriously grappling with my decision to relocate from Pittsburgh to Princeton. While the move brought about beautiful things, it also required me to leave some things behind that were important to me. I’ve found myself ridden with a complex guilt over not being closer to my family. I worry about my nieces not knowing their Aunt Rose, or my absence being noticed at family gatherings. I wonder what people think of my move. Do they judge me? I know I shouldn’t worry about such things, but these thoughts creep around in the background. They are permeating the now. Instead of creating a new and present life, I find myself dwelling in the past and missing what I left behind.
And so, I ran to say goodbye.
I jogged through the city streets where I drove my little car. I passed through the old neighborhood where I used to live. I skipped across the bridges and jump-kicked my way to the finish line. I let myself be completely immersed in the experience, and it was almost transcendental. I smiled and laughed and spoke to runners near me. In many ways, it was the easiest race I’ve ever run — despite moments of physical pain. I never let myself stop. I just kept going and watching and observing and breathing it all in. It was wonderful to experience the city in such a way, with a calming repose.
They say all runners experience a high, but this was unlike anything I’d ever experienced. It was a true form of letting go. As I ran through that wonderful city I used to call home, I couldn’t help but think: “You were alright, Pittsburgh. But I’ll seeya later.” And I meant it.
For the first time since I moved, I drove home without feeling weepy. I found myself looking forward to getting back home — to my new life. I thought about all that I’d built there: my job, my apartment, a group of friends, a neighborhood. In that moment, I felt incredibly grateful and blessed.
In the past week or so, several people have told me that I should write about these experiences. I’ll admit, when you write for a living by day, you are so much less inclined to write in the evening. But something about this moment feels really important, and I want to capture its essence here. I’m so glad I did.