I am a logical runner. Not the kind that plans routes and tracks elevation, finding the best run possible for 30 minutes. No, I’m the person who makes when/then statements for life and runs until I’m bent over holding my sides for the thens.
When I get promoted at the agency, then I’ll go client side. When my marriage ends, then I’ll move to Long Island. When my divorce goes through, then I’ll get a new apartment. When I lose this weight, then I’ll start dating. When we break up, then I’ll move to New Orleans and start over.
You get the point, and I’ve done all those things (you can’t say I don’t have any follow through). I’ve when/then’d myself enough to grow comfortable with the cramps of my back up plans, but the moving, alone time, the drives, have all made me become a stray.
It’s complicated being a stray — you don’t feel settled, but you’re content. You start enjoying being anonymous, and you learn to wander without a plan. You know no place is home, because one day your little hidey hole might just get hit by a tornado, and you’ll need to run for your “then.”
And then I met her.
We wander together and she sees the tiny purple flowers on a plant I pass every day that I’ve missed, doesn’t mind when my only plan for her trip to New Orleans is just to “go to the river and eat beignets.” And there’s that smile as she reaches for my hand on a drive, her saying that despite the 1,300 miles between New York and New Orleans, and no matter what happens, I am not a stray anymore.
And for once in my life, I actually know that to be true. She makes it easy to stop running, the backup planned logic I’m so used to far less important, except for this: When I can feel the plane start to descend into New York, and it finally lands, then I know I am home.