Thaw

You don’t realize how stale the air is until you open the windows and let the spring breeze in.

It reminds me of something Melissa Febos says in her memoir Abandon Me: some burdens can only be measured by their relief.  I’m sure there’s bigger a tie-in for that quote somewhere, but, for now I just let it simmer, hanging out in the smell of melting ice and shifting winds.

Spring has been shyly introducing itself over the past couple days, and it is through this thawing that I realize how stagnant I feel.

The reality is, I haven’t been stagnant.  I’ve been knee-deep in a new book release.  I’ve been wading through a corrective exercise course, one that simultaneously reaffirms what I’m doing and reminds me why I haven’t exactly signed on to become a physical therapist.  I’ve had my hands in a thousand different projects, from online classes to podcasts to fundraisers — I’ve been hosting get togethers and seeing friends and going to events.  It’s been a busy winter, a full winter.  I’ve been content in the busyness and, conversely, content in the downtime.

But in the thawing, something stirs.

I ache for mountains.  I ache for my old schedule, where gigantic swatches of the day were free.  I realize that while I’ve been busy and professional and aspiring, my wanderlust has been hibernating.  And I don’t realize how dormant it has been until it wakes back up again.

I don’t do well with feeling caged in, like snowbanks have impeded my path or the brutal winter winds have pushed the door shut.  To paraphrase Jeanette Winterson in Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal — yet another memoir, as I find an unquenchable thirst for women’s stories right now — I must have a toe in both worlds.  I’m the cat who’ll stay domestic so long as the door stays open.

And now the door to the back porch is open, complementing the windows, creating a cross breeze.  Air filters through the screens and the stagnancy of winter is shrugged off.

I stir in this warmth.  It makes me want to cancel classes and drive backroads to no where. There is so much to see and do and I am insatiable.  If I am but a portal for the universe to perceive itself, then I want to grab hold of as much of the universe as I can.

I ache, I ache, I ache.  My God, will there ever be a time when I’m not aching for adventure, when my soul isn’t tugging me to the one more spot on the horizon — just a little bit further; I need to see where this path goes after the bend.  I’m already planning trips in my mind — I want Quebec City for a long weekend, I want bungee jumping for my birthday.  Let’s make good on our promise to go to San Diego, to Miami, to Iceland.  Let’s visit a national park.  A spot on the Appalachian Trail.  A summit.  Two summits.  Let’s just get in the car and drive.  Vamonos, vamonos, vamonos.  Tengo una alma salvaje y un cuerpo energético.

My husband — the yin to my yang — loves this about me.  He loves my wild spirit, even if that wildness has proven to tear at the drapes and chew on the woodwork when left unchecked.  I pull him towards the sun and he keeps the wax in my wings from melting away.

The air awakens something in me and I become like the tulips eager to burst from the ground and bloom.

Yes, but remember what happens to impatient flowers who make their presence known before the last frost hits, I warn myself.  Sometimes I can be my own yin to the yang.  Sometimes.  And perhaps that why I stay in a region with such long winters: without hibernation, I would truly go feral, even with my husband and my ever-strengthening rational side keeping my Icarus below the stratosphere.

I’ve spent so long afraid of winter — fearing the darkness, the cold, the perpetual indoors — and this is the first year I’ve truly embraced it.  But one does not fully remember how inviting the ground is until the snow melts away.

***

I detour heavily after my morning class, Day 3 of this spring-like weather, the peak before the temperatures are due to drop again, before the rainfall hits.  I blast across roads with the windows down and the music up — my audiobook on pause, as if I don’t have it in me to listen to someone else’s words, someone else’s story right now.  I play songs that have somehow been imprinted with the serene drives home after my longer hikes.  I can practically taste the dried pineapple slices that I greedily ate up one afternoon as I navigated my way back to the highway.  I can feel the exact way I felt after returning to the trailhead: tired, satiated, temporarily tamed.

My to-do list is still heavy.  Your workload with a book doesn’t stop just because you’ve released it.  And I still have a few more chapters to read and a good amount of studying to do before I can take my exam and finish my course.  And then, of course, there are the afternoon classes — classes I wouldn’t dream of canceling, despite my wanderlust.  I’ve worked too hard to get them, to get to where I am now.

But for now I’m twisting down this small town roads — roads that were once imprinted with blazing, surreal anxiety, a time when I drove them because I just needed escape, I needed just one fleeting moment where the weight of everything wasn’t shattering my heart.  Roads that, when I finally got my head above water and put my foot down and let the dust finally clear, I actively took back, refusing to permanently give them up to the darkest time in my life.

Now they are back to what they were in the before: majestic, tranquil, exactly what I need to keep the feral side of me content for now.

Some ordeals can only be measured in how good it feels once they’re gone.

(…and there’s the bigger tie-in.)

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