Monday, December 31, 2007

2007: The Year In Review

"Forgiveness is the fragrance the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it." -Mark Twain

Notice how I've paired this nice quote with a cheesy picture. -Ms. Laawyuhr

When I go running, or rather, my combination of walking and jogging that I call "my run", there are a few minutes towards the end of my time that I run flat out. I stretch my legs out as far as they will reach, my feet strike with a satisfying thud, and for a few minutes I run like I'm fleeing - before my asthma kicks in and my lungs betray me - and it's when I feel best about the world.

My body and I have always had an uneasy relationship. I was nine when my body and brain started developing in separate directions. That year was the first time I fainted from asthma. It was also the year that I suffered "a harmful or offensive touching" (what the law calls a battery) on the playground. The boy was older, had repeated the grade at least once already, and in retrospect was, no doubt, sexually abused. The boy didn't really hurt me; I was surprised and confused more than anything. And I wouldn't say I'm scarred by it. It's more of an omen about the way negative attention snuck up on me. It's also part of the reason my parents' moved me to private school.

When I moved schools, the girls there seem to already know their bodies, dressing in cute outfits and expensive jeans, while I remember being rather disinterested in clothing. I was still a kid; they were young adults. My brain didn't quite know what to do, so it continued to read books and daydream and assumed that things would sort themselves out.

Except that it didn't turn out to quite work like that. Somehow by the time I was in high school it became a regular part of my life that certain male classmates would surround me in a side hallway and taunt me, describing in detail my physical failings. Like the boy on the playground, their attention was unexpected; but they were far more unpleasant and malicious than that poor boy. And as I came to believe that I was some sort of quasimodo, I became more withdrawn. My brain and body increasingly went their separate ways, my brain resenting its container, its carrier.

O muse, I sing now of the themes of teen movies! Where we nerds of high school are promised success and beauty in the years following graduation, where the pain of high school will be sown into seeds of triumph!

But I found none of these things. There was no great success, no incredible love to sweep away all the incidents before. Rather in college and after, I tried relationships like hand-me-down shoes, squeezing my feet into ones too small or slopping around in a size too big not knowing how dating was supposed to work. I dated because I was grateful to find someone who seemed to want me, even if it didn't work. Or he hit me. And the brain believed it was all the body's fault.

And then I went to law school. After three years of educational misery, and then with the bar, and a 30th birthday this past year, I felt ready to try to have a personal life. Of course, that has been met with various degrees of disaster. I like to think that I should get points for trying, and that I'm not (completely) bitter. And if my behavior has been slightly crazy, or even pretty crazy, well, I think I'm entitled to mess up a bit at this point.

I'm not telling my story because I want anyone's pity. In fact, fuck pity. I've had enough for myself over the years. Writing it down now is like passing a mile marker letting me know how far I've run.
And at long last, with the new year, my brain has come to accept that it and my body are actually the same organism. It's like what Khaled Hosseini wrote in The Kite Runner "I wondered if that was how forgiveness budded, not with the fanfare of epiphany, but with pain gathering its things, packing up, and slipping away unannouced in the middle of the night."

So now when I go running, when I run flat out feeling like my lungs are going to burst, for the first time since I was nine, I feel like I'm running towards something.

Of course, who the hell knows what.

Past Years In Review: 2006, 2005

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