The trees sway in the breeze with abundant swagger. Each one is a mural of vibrant color and I absorb it all as I take my usual morning run through the graveyard. Running has become as much of a constant in my life as toddler tantrums in grocery stores. The trees around me, they were dormant a few weeks back, dormant and bare. Their winter hibernation was building up radiant color for the spring renewal. Now they are alive with color, different vibrant colors. Each one is completely unique. Just like us – I think as I round the corner and press myself up the hill. My lungs are getting heavier now with the humid spring air. They are just like us. No comparisons, no apologies, just shining our most beautiful colors. One tree is purple and the next one is a bright, almost neon, green. The purple tree with the fragrant soft buds faces the green tree. Does it wonder if it should be green too? Do the other trees expect it to be green? In front of the purple and green trees were two smaller trees that had yet to bloom. They were twigs, jetting out of the trunk and pregnant with buds. They looked like old, arthritic fingers – like the grandparents I imagine are buried underneath. That is really all I want to imagine, grandparents and great grandparents that lived long, joyous lives, not the ones whose dates I shudder to do the math on. The twig trees seemed oddly proud of the way it formed a branch web over the purple and green tree. It was as if they knew they hadn’t even begun to reach their potential.
I have been so inspired by the newly found blooms in my cemetery runs. These runs have given me that freedom. I remember the day I started running. It was hard. My legs were sore and my lungs couldn’t catch on to the proper rhythm of air. I could barely run a minute. My life had just changed. I didn’t have a job anymore, and I was running. Now, we are celebrating our six-month milestone. This spring, I get to enjoy the fresh, short-lived blooms. I deserve that. I am working harder now than I ever have in my life – and I have had a job since I was fifteen. Late nights behind the bar wake up to toddler demands for attention. Once I get the babies to bed, I catch up with my girls- trying to latch onto what ever they feel comfortable enough to share with me. In-between these moments of being a parent, a wife, a friend, I write. That is who I am now. I am someone who runs, and someone who writes.
As you may have realized by now, I am a sucker for a metaphor. I look at my life as a series of fables and try to find the hidden meanings behind the experiences. It is a little mystery that way, and a little poetic. This journey, running, writing, parenting, figuring things out, this journey is now a half a year in. I was like the trees that died in the winter, decaying and falling apart – but change is never easy. As the springtime air warms the sky each day, I am starting to see the buds and colors of upcoming blooms. Maybe I am the twig tree; maybe I will be the purple tree. As I keep stride to my music and nod my hellos at the strangers, unwilling participants in this journey, I can feel the start of something blossoming around me. Somewhere in the dead of winter, I wrote this essay (5K of Love) about a dead and decrepit tree branch hitting me in the face, injuring my head and my thoughts. As I begin my cool down and walk by it, now conditioned to walk around it, I looked up and saw it had bloomed- bright, pink happy flowers.