July 9, 2013

My last run of the New England trip was in Brattleboro, Vermont. I’d chosen Brattleboro because it was on the southern loop back to Hartford and I thought it would give me the hippie Vermont flavor. Brattleboro would also be my first overnight in a home which wasn’t a friend’s. I’d found an Airbnb listing just outside of the town center. The photograph showed a private room with two tall windows covered by lace curtains and two twin cherry wood beds. Each bed was covered with quilt and piles of blankets at the end. It looked like the perfect place to rest after a week of full days. My host exported craft beers online, or something like that, and her kitchen was packed with unique pottery and posters of the scientific classifications of mushrooms. When her friend who worked at the local college specializing in global education came by for tea and freshly picked blueberries, they welcomed me into the conversation and offered suggestions for dinner in Brattleboro and tomorrow’s final run. I went to bed exhausted. I chose the bed against the window and peered through the lace curtains to the trees and streetlight outside. Then something what I call “magical” happened. It started to rain–thick, heavy East Coast rain with drops like miniature water balloons bursting as they hit the pavement. After the week of stifling heat it was a welcome finale. The rain kept on ‘til morning, waking me for the last run on the last day of the trip.

I’d planned my 3.1 mile route before stepping out the front door of the house but I couldn’t have imagined what it would feel like to take that run. I didn’t mind the rain on my wicking running clothes. It pelted me as I ran along a winding, country road to a farmer’s market and a red, covered bridge. As the rain pounded on memories from the trip reverberated in the air. For thirty minutes in that shaded grove of clouds, rain and trees, clouds in my head began to clear, circling around this thought: There are so many ways to live a life. I’d visited and met friends who were engaged, newly married, newly divorced, parents, cohabitating without kids, and caring for soon-to-be step kids. Some of them had full-time office jobs but others were working part-time, starting their own business, working from home, in school for a career change or charting their own course built on connections and a dream.

Then M83’s “Midnight City” starting to play. Hearing the yelps and beats, like the pounding of my own heart, I was elevated to clarity: My life could be different. I could actually believe and behave my way to different. The rain broke the spell.

That trip introduced the idea that my friends, relationships, travels, career, and home could be other than what they’d been, that it was actually possible to change who I was by doing and trying. I had come face to face with so much spectacle and sheer joy, my face at times aching from smiling, I started to believe in change again. With resources, courage and generosity of spirit I could do what I wanted. I had to do what I wanted.

Over two years later, I look back on that morning in Brattleboro having not moved to New England. At the time I couldn’t have imagined that move wouldn’t happen. I also couldn’t have imagined that my sister would move to that very same town to attend that very same college specializing in global education and walk through that very same farmer’s market to buy apples on a Saturday. Isn’t that amazing? Isn’t it amazing to know that our dream can fade away and a whole new dream can live on its place? I think it is.

Did my life dramatically change when I returned to Seattle from New England? Not completely. But running in Vermont made me believe it could.


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