I didn't post yesterday. Let me explain why.
I frickin' ran a half marathon, that's why!
I wanted to blog a bit about the experience, since it kind of relates to my poem below, and also, well, it was a beautifully emotional day for me. If you've been following this blog, you know that my running is my rebellion -- it's me saying FU to my health issues, it's about living life to the fullest because you really don't know what tomorrow's going to bring. Running makes me feel alive.
Anyway, this was my second half marathon, and it was an amazing experience. I ran with my dad and also, B joined us and ran the 5k. The event took place in Luckenbach, a tiny nothing of a town made famous by a country song. It's adorable. I figured this race would be a good second half to run for a few reasons. 1. It was an excuse to visit the Texas hill country in spring (wildflowers much?) 2. It's one of my dad's favorite places since he's a musician, 3. It's one of B's favorite places because he's a... beer drinker? and 4. Oh, unlimited free beer for runners. Yeah, maybe 4 is the main reason :D 5. Because why the hell not? Dad and I had been training for about three months together. It's been great.
So yesterday, race day, we head over to the race location at an insane hour. The gun goes off and the race begins. About a minute into the run, I'm holding back tears of joy as I make my way out of the tiny town and into a grove of wildflowers. It's breathtakingly beautiful, and I was just overflowing with joy and gratefulness at being able to do this crazy running thing. The entire run was this rural country road, through mostly farm and untouched brush land.
My euphoric joy lasted about three miles. That's when blisters kicked in. Ugh.
I was able to shake it off, though, to concentrate on the run ahead of me, and to enjoy most of it (except the hills, those damn hills). At round mile 10, I started losing focus again and concentrated on the idea of free beer at the finish line.
I ended up finishing at 1 hour, 58 minutes and 59 seconds. I'm immensely proud! I crossed the finish line sprinting, my hands in the air, a victorious smile on my face. My goal for the race was to finish in under 2 hours, and I did just that. Victory! My dad finished before me! He's so amazing.
The after party was just as wonderful as the run itself. I was greeted by B and my dad, and we proceeded to drink and be merry for the entire morning and into the afternoon. There was nonstop live music, BBQ, and free beer until noon. It was so euphoric -- a fitting end to a beautiful race.
As I sat there at the picnic table, gathering my thoughts and drinking my second beer, I felt strangely at peace, at home. As the afternoon came, the runners began to filter out and the typical Luckenbach crowd of country music fans, bikers, and locals began pouring in to replace them. Everyone was so friendly -- an elderly couple sat next to me and we ended up having a wonderful conversation in the lull of the music. Why do I feel so at home, so at peace, I wondered. I looked around and saw a sea of faces that looked like me -- all whiteness all around. I'm not used to that living in the valley, and part of me felt a little bit ashamed for relishing that feeling of sameness. I also noticed that, well, all the singers were men, spinning narratives about men's lives from men's perspectives. The world seemed "right" ... but in reality, it was just "centered."
I tried articulating my thoughts, had a little conversation about them with B about the lack of diversity, with my dad about the gendered nature of the space. I joked that an inter-sectional feminist needed to take the mic and read some poetry to bring Luckenbach back down to earth.
Anyway, when I got back to the hotel, I couldn't shake my thoughts about the experience -- well, that and also the euphoric/torturous experience of the run itself (did I mention blisters? because wow). Then, this morning, I remembered my task of poeming and thought, well darn, I should write about the run. I checked out the Napowrimo website and the prompt was pretty much perfect. Write about something you're ashamed to admit. I'm ashamed to admit that the whole country music culture thing was, well, appealing, even as a woman, even as a feminist, a white feminist who's trying to educate herself and be the best feminist she can be, though of course falling short at times. So here's me trying to play around with that idea.
At the Country Music Concert
As I sat there at the picnic table,
Sipping beer and tapping my foot
To the beat of a Merle Haggard song,
For a moment, I felt like I was home
And the world felt right again.
There were four young bucks on the stage --
One man twanged at the steel guitar,
Another thumped the drums to the beat
Of my heart, the guitarist nodded his head,
his body moving to the music, the singer crooned
A tired story in a low drawl
that made it almost sound romantic
as he held the microphone up to his lips.
A little girl danced with her mother
In front of the stage, her dress
The colors of the hill country in spring.
She wore a tiny pair of lavender boots.
I fantasized about her life
Unfolding like a country song
In verses – falling in love
With a man in a cowboy hat
Tight, rugged jeans, a sweat-stained shirt.
She could ride a rusted pick-up
Into the country, make babies,
master the art of making pecan pie.
Our world could be simple –
I want to follow her into a place where
Neighbors know us,
Think like us
Talk like us
Look like us
Believe like us.
In a place like that, my own daughter
Could have more answers than questions,
she could know her place in this world,
a girl in a country song who falls in love
With the star of the football team
And disappears into a silent whorl of dust.
Life could taste like stale beer
Dust, feel like a fist to the eye.
Simpler days – it’s what everyone dreams of.
I tapped my foot, fell into the crooner’s voice
Like a trance. I took another sip of Shiner,
It was getting warm, I’d been there all afternoon.
I breathed in deep the smell of smoke, of BBQ,
And for a moment, I’m ashamed to admit,
This hardcore feminist felt like she was home.