Friday, August 29, 2008

New Friends and Places Best Left Behind

It's Thursday night, well, technically Friday morning, but I don't count the new day until the sun actually rises. I've been home about an hour and once again, I don't feel like sleeping.

I've been thinking a lot lately about life and friends and the world in general. In the last two years or so my life has turned completely on its head and frankly, I love it. I don't understand it, and I think I manage to make a pretty good hash out of about 90% of what I do on the personal front, but for the most part I'm enjoying the ride.

If you'd told me two years ago that I'd make a bunch of friends by blindly joining a beach volleyball league, I would have probably laughed at you, that is, if I had managed to work up the nerve to talk to you in the first place. If you'd gone on to tell me that I would run a triathlon, let alone get hooked on the sport, I would probably have said something really snotty and walked away.

The reason I'm thinking about all this I guess is that today sucked. It really, really sucked. There was almost nothing about work that went right, I nearly had a high speed accident on the freeway, one thing after another. None of that matters, though. I had a birthday party to go to tonight. I got there late, but I got there. I didn't talk much, but I almost never do in big groups. I don't do well in them. I'm the guy who says things that no one hears, even when no one else is talking. Even this doesn't really matter though, because for me, just going means that I'm not quite the guy I used to be. There was a time, not all that long ago when I would never have gone. I probably wouldn't have responded to the invite, and if I had, it would have been even money that I'd get to the door of the restaurant and not be able to go in. I can't tell you how many times I've done that.

My dad asked me today at lunch what I was doing tonight. I think he meant, what workout was I going to do. I'm always going off to swim or run or hit the weight room during the week, but I said no, I have this birthday party to go to. he kind of laughed and said "remember when you never had anywhere to go?" I do. Believe me. It was a period that had to be worked through to find the other side, but now, with some distance, I can say that I stand in awe of the people who stuck by me during those times. My family, the SCU crew, all of 'em. It's humbling to know that no matter how invisible you feel, there's usually someone looking; that people have your back when you don't have any clue how to ask for their help. That you didn't have to is staggering.

I was told tonight that this blog is a bit negative. I know it is, but most of the time, I'm trying to be funny. I'm cursed/blessed with a dark, offbeat sense of humor. In conversation, I can usually make it work, but not always in print. With the exception of a few posts, I am being as snarky as you probably think I am.

But what does all this have to do with anything? Not much really, at least in the longer view. Nothing I say here is going to make me or you a faster racer, or make the next president any more likely to solve the world's problems than the last several.

What I can say, as I look back at the last couple of years, is that I've blundered my way onto a path that makes some sort of sense to me, in a really oblique sort of way. I've made new friends, lost track of a few, and covered a lot of ground with a dizzying array of steady and one-time traveling companions. I don't know where this road goes, or who will be standing there with me a little further on, but I am looking forward to finding out. I know where I've been, and there are lot of places I never want to see again, a lot of holes I'd like to see filled in and paved over, but there's not a lesson learned that I'd give up.

I'm bad at keeping in touch, at making the little gestures that keep friendships and relationships on track. I'm just not that detail oriented, though I wish I could be. I know I should work harder to keep up on the people in my life, however tangential, but I usually just can't do it. There's still a little bit of the maladjusted, dark as hell loner I used to be stashed away in corners I haven't found, but I'm looking. I'd like to be a better friend, brother, son than I am and I am working toward the goal, but it's tiring work, building something without a blueprint, so the days when you make a positive step without having to work at it are pretty special, especially when the odds were stacked against you.

I'm getting long winded now, so I'm going to stop before I repeat myself. I'm going to sign off with this poem, I guess it is, that I wrote right around the time I knew things had to change. Maybe one day there will be a sequel, but I think it will involve some running. Until next time, this is called Walk Again.

Standing. Toes over the edge. Staring
Rocks on the valley floor
A lost soul willing
A sick heart beating
Giving anything just to be good

Falling into sunrise
Bloody light burning my eyes
A vertigo I can no longer feel

If I could grow wings I'd fly away from all of this
But on my broken legs all I can do is crawl
The distance between where I need to be and where I am
Is greater than the strength of this boy to become a man

So with bleeding hands I pull myself into the sun
Over the rocks and across the glass horizon
With every drop of blood I leave my sins here in this dirt

Free fall. Through clouds and fire
Strip away the armor. Shed the fear
And show my scars to the world

If I could grow wings I'd fly away from all of this
But on my broken legs all I can do is crawl
The one I need to be waits for me
A shadow behind the sun
Waiting for me to heal. For the day that I stand tall
So that I might walk again for now I'll crawl


ann marie said...

after all that greasy food, I couldn't sleep either . . .

gunnbr said...

Glad I didn't eat with you guys then--I slept fine. :)

So I've got the same thing going on--a few years ago, I never would have imagined that I'd be out doing triathlons and having my social calendar so filled that I simply don't have time to do things like watch TV.

seeryanrun said...

I missed dinner too. All I had last night was some crackers when I got home.

katie b said...

i never knew any of that stuff about you and quite frankly i'm all the more glad that you've come into the sunshine, that you've broken free from whatever was holding you down/back. you're a great friend and a terrific training buddy. i'm glad to know you Ryan :)

McNastabator said...

If it matters, I don't think you're all that negative...

I think the thing you need to figure out (or share) is why you don't sleep much.

danban said...

i hear the mutterings that most don't hear cause i'm usually muttering into the crowd right next to ya. don't worry, the seemingly unheard comments don't tend to go unheard by me :0)

Ben said...

if you told me 12 years ago that you were going to be this stable, i would have told you that you were probably on crack... now you're probably at the top of the "mental stability" list among the people i know. glad you found your groove. keep up the Admiral Snarky persona don't forget about us poor souls stuck up here in NorCal. and by the way, 9 times out of 10, 2 Tylenol PM work wonders for insomnia...

Rinnie said...

Ryan, Ryan, Ryan . . . I am glad you came. And I have to agree with Ann, after those sweet potato fry thingies, I slept for about 2 hours. Boo.

Rinnie said...

Or maybe it was the martini's . . . It's a toss up.

seeryanrun said...

Or maybe you were just haunted by what Murphy did to BG's elbow...

patrickcowgilldrain said...

Ryan, I'm glad to have met you and that you're a friend of mine. Although your humor sometimes goes right over my head, or maybe in and out of my ears, it's your humor and I hope you don't ever try to change it. I've been really impressed with the changes you've undergone in your triathlon performances since I first met you, and I think it's exciting to see where it leads you. Like you, I got into this sport for a couple specific reasons (for me, it was better fitness, better overall health, and a better social scene), but the benefits it has actually brought my life are far beyond my expectations. It sounds like the same case for you.

Keep in touch, man. All the best.

- Pat