In the last two months (since December 7) I've been going to the local YMCA and working on the Couch to 5K program. I fell off the exercise wagon for two and a half weeks in January shortly after my father died because I fell into a slump, but about a week ago I felt really compelled to get back to my program again. The rush of endorphins after a good thirty minutes is the medicine I need to keep from going into a depressive episode or get overtaken by anxiety. Even at the best of times, I need to fight hard to stave those chemicals off.
Earlier this week I was rather unfocused on the treadmill. Either my music was all wrong, or it just felt so boring to run on the machine. This morning I realized that it's getting light enough in time for me to run outdoors, so I ended up running (slowly, of course, it's still pretty new for me) down to Dallas Road from Quadra and Fort. I felt like I really needed to see the ocean today.
It was still frosty and a bit dewy in the early morning. and there was a smattering of pet lovers walking their playful and energetic dogs. The closer I got to the ocean, the lighter I felt in my chest. The sun was breaking through some clouds and shone softly on the water. Waves rolled in rhythmically and gulls called out, and my own breathing seemed in perfect time with the life around me.
I got as far as Clover Point before I turned to make my way back to where I started from (this time through Cook Street Village). Along the way, I felt the stirring of something I have not felt for a long time: a fresh, quiet, tentative sense of belonging. I passed the street that the officiant who married us lived on and met with us on our wedding day last August; further along, the tacky apartment building I lived in 22 years ago during one of my brief seasons in Victoria.
I have been feeling the loss of that elusive, dreamy sense that I had of Victoria all those years ago when I first came out here to try to have a relationship with my father, who had long been divorced from my mother, and with whom I had an on-again, off-again connection. I stayed with him in James Bay back then; my sister Jessica was a preschooler, my second sister Zoe was not conceived yet. I was 20 and had a view of the world that centred around my manufactured fabulousnessness. And then the last 22 years happened.
Now my father is gone, my sisters are women, my children are on the cusp of adulthood, and I'm in my second marriage. I've travelled and have been uprooted and settled and uprooted again countless times in the last two decades. I've spent many of those years feeling lost and disconnected. Today, with my feet, breath, and heartbeat in time with the ocean and the air, I felt a sense of gravity anchoring me to the life I'm creating. Habits, routines, growing relationships...all of it still new and increasingly familiar at the same time.
My feet hitting the ground as I moved anonymously along the roads this morning somehow punctuated that I'm here - I'm not lost, even though time moves on and people pass away, and memories slip by like a half-remembered dream.