Stepping Out

My whole body hurts.

I tried on my suit jacket in preparation for the Denver trip. I haven’t touched it in months. When I pulled it on, I was surprised to find that it seemed to have a tighter fit than I remembered, which was physically impossible, I thought, because I’ve dropped two sizes in the last year.

It zipped up fine.

The problem was the shoulders.

Of course. Spend two or three days a week beating the shit out of something, and work with 30lb free weights five mornings a week, and you get broad in the shoulders. I was already broad in the shoulders.

Such irony. I’ve spent my whole life wishing I was smaller, and here I am, getting bigger, taking up more space.

I’ve been issued a company laptop, a corporate card. Rumor has it I’ll be traveling to Dallas, New York, maybe Fresno this year. I’ll be talking with my new boss about what they can offer me in Denver.

I’ll be 25 next week.

I went jogging tonight. I’m not sure why, because I was prepared to pack all my jogging clothes for Denver (my hotel has a gym), but I was full of this nervous energy that I couldn’t get rid of, so I pulled on my Hurley hoodie (I was so gleeful to find that “Hurley” was an actual clothing brand) and hit the pavement.

By the time I got to the park, the wind was up, coming in from over the lake, and it was snowing.

I picked a sport I like – boxing – that requires the one exercise I have hated the whole of my entire life with a blazing passion – jogging – in order to be in any way effective.

I hate jogging. I have always hated it. I can’t say why. Maybe memories of those truly awful fitness days in PE when you all got clocked on doing your mile, and I always seemed to be lagging behind back there with the other fat kids. Mostly, I think, I didn’t like the idea of running much because, well, I gained about 30lbs during puberty, and all of the sudden there was a lot more extra flesh to jiggle around and attract attention, and I hated drawing attention, because I never looked on any of it as good.

So for whatever reason, I hate jogging, but here I am, knowing I have to be up by 3:30am to catch my flight, knowing I should be sleeping, but too edgy to sit still.

I’ve learned to pace myself, which took awhile to figure out. Now, whenever I start moving too fast, I remind myself that it’s better to feel like I’m trotting out the duration than to have to stop because I’m gasping. The breathing thing took forever to figure out, too. All from the diaphram. If you lose the breathing part, you’re finished, and that’s what I’m paying attention to the whole time, that and my music.

I’m just about to reach the place where I usually stop for my hundred-yard walk (usually my halfway and turn-around point), but there’s a good song on (Snow Patrol: Run), and I keep going, and you know, just past where I usually stop, the path is way better lighted, and you know, there’s some bike riders out here tonight, hey is that another female jogger? Hell, I’ll keep going.

Past the skating park, cool, why aren’t I tired? Another good song (Velvet Underground: These Days), put it on repeat, keep going.

I’m not sure why I’m not tired. It’s like I’ve given my brain leave to gnaw on all the bullshit I’ve been tossing and turning about in bed, and it’s taking the opportunity to hash it out while I run.

I’m worried about this job, worried about sticking with it, because I’m so damn terrified of sticking with anything for more than two years (yea, about the time it took for my last actual relastionship to go from blandly sour to freakshow. I’ll be the first to bang that one on the head).

But what did I always want? A job where I got opportunities to travel, that gave me time to write (if I only work 6-9 months a year when projects are going, guess what I’m doing the rest of the time?), a job that paid off my student loans, because until I get out from under the burden of all this debt, I’m going to feel leashed.

I can see the tennis courts now, and I’ve mapped this route before. To the tennis courts and back is over 4 miles.

The snow’s coming down thick now. My fingers are numb.

Train: Ordinary (repeat)

I jog past the tennis courts, take my 100 yard half-way point walk, turn around, and head back.

I’m facing more into the wind now, and the snow’s like sleet against my face.

This is stupid. Why am I doing this?

I’m tired, but I can’t stop now because to stop and walk means to frickin’ freeze my ass off.

I just don’t want to do this. I hate this. Skip, go back to Snow Patrol (repeat). Keep going.

The last mile and a half is a blistering bitch.

I tell myself I’ll let myself walk at least under the tunnel. Just a breather, just a…

And I headed into the tunnel, and I realized there was no one waiting on the other side of it.

I told a buddy of mine once that I always felt like I was running away from something, and he said, “Are you sure you weren’t running *toward* something?”

Maybe I am, maybe I’m not, but tonight, the only person behind me was me, the only person ahead of me was me.

I was running away from somebody I was, and running toward somebody I wanted to be.

I had this litany running through my head, “You’ve got three degrees. You’ve trekked 160 km into rural Africa. You’ve written eight books (no, they aren’t very good, but I fucking finished them). You can run four miles. This is the last of your shit that you need to get together. Fit and strong. That’s it. You’ll be there.”

I’ve been looking for somebody to fight my whole life, when the only person I’ve got to fight is myself.

But it’s like once you start running, you can’t stop.

For better or worse, I’m stuck with myself.

May as well be a better self.

But goddamn, it’s a bitch to get there.

The Latest

Future Artifacts

Brutal. Devastating. Dangerous. Join an investigation into a cruel and heartless leader … crawl through filth and mud to escape biological warfare … team up with time-traveling soldiers faced with potentially life-altering instructions. Kameron Hurley, award-winning author and expert in the future of war and resistance movements, has created eighteen exhilarating tales giving glimpses into […]

Support Kameron

If you’ve read and enjoyed my work for free – whether that’s the musings here on the blog, guest posts elsewhere, or through various free fiction sites, it’s now easier than ever to donate to support this work, either with a one-time contribution via PayPal, or via a monthly Patreon contribution:

Scroll to Top