Ironman Louisville is 20 weeks away. Only 20. That's not many. Not to say that's short, I mean a lot can happen in 20 weeks. In 20 weeks, a woman can bake half a baby. In 20 weeks, the temperature in Kansas City can go from fifteen below to 102 degrees. And in 20 weeks, Kim Basigner and Mickey Rourke can get blindfolded and freaky in front of a fridge 2.1 times. But when thinking about getting ready to swim, bike and run 140.6 miles (in a row) just 20 weeks from now, it just doesn't seem very long at all. And I feel like I can use all the length I can get.
That's what she said.
Many thoughts go through my head on a day-to-day basis about Louisville. Those thoughts run the gamut. Some are positive (I can totally do this! What? Pshaw, ain't nothing but a thing … 140.6 times). Some are tear-jerking (Jenne Fromm … YOU…ARE…AN….IRONMAN!) and some … well, some aren't so awesome. The thing is, I can't think of Louisville without thinking about my ex in-laws (out-laws?) who lived there. I can't think of my ex in-laws without thinking of my first marriage – that makes sense. I can't think of my first marriage without thinking about my first husband – he was sort of there. A lot. And I can't think of my first husband without feeling, in a tiny tiny way, like I'm a failure.
If you've been married and divorced, you get it. It's the scarlet D you carry with you that no one talks about. No, it's not taboo anymore and yes, you are in good company but no one walks down the aisle thinking "eh, if it doesn't work, no biggy". And no one leaves a marriage without some scarring. That's what happens when something is ripped beyond repair. Divorce is hard. It hurts. And if you have any self-introspection at all, it makes you question every single thing about yourself.
There are tennis courts near my house. During the winter, the D.O.T. uses that space to pile up buckets and bucket of snow. Every season, this snow pile amazes me. For a couple of reasons - one, it's just always amazing to see Missouri actually plow snow (you'd understand if you lived here) and two, because that snow pile lasts well into spring. I wish you could see it the day after it snows. It's dreamy. Every year I just wanna run there and play in it. It's big and bright white and chunky. It's soft and billowy. It looks perfect – like snowball snow, and snow-angel snow and snowman snow and it especially looks like snow-fort snow. It's everything good about snow. It's whipped cream. It's marshmallow topped cocoa. It's meringue. I just love it.
For about 24 hours. Then it gets crappy.
See the thing about that snow pile is, the longer it stays there, the dirtier it gets. Exhaust from cars karreening around the corner turns the top layer dingy. Mud and muck from the melted street snow slashes up the sides. Dirty rain beats down on the top of the pile during each drizzle. And as the pile begins to melt, everything the D.O.T. scraped up along with the snow begins to show through. Tree limbs, slabs of asphalt, rotten leaves, trash. All this dirt and grime does two things simultaneously to my snow pile. 1) It infects it and 2) it insulates it so that long, long after it should be gone, it lingers. And it looks nothing like it did … all the beauty is leeched out. All the usefulness seeps away and it is no longer even recognizable for the goodness it once was.
A lot of things are like that, I suppose,
When they first fall upon us and pile up there is a good reason. It makes sense. Like the initial swelling of an injured knee or a twinge of pain in a pulled back – at first, necessary … if it sticks around too long, however, what was initially good can be downright grimy.
I didn't do everything right in my first marriage. I wasn't as forgiving as I could have been. I didn't call bullshit often enough. I under-judged my support system. And I under-valued myself. I made mistakes. I shut down. I built walls. I gave up. Quite honestly, there was a time, years ago – years and years, when thinking about those mistakes and working to correct them and make changes to my character served me well. There was a time when that thinking was healthy. New. Fresh. When remembering was key to changing. When my failure of the past pushed me closer to the me I want and need to be. There was a time when it was good. But the longer that thinking sticks around, the dirtier it is becoming. Until now, it doesn't even resemble what it once was.
Sometimes now, in the deepest darkest parts of my mind, in the melted pile of memories, I find it hard to think of my failed marriage without thinking I'm a Failure.
I need to let go of it.
I need to cross that finish line.
I need to associate Louisville with success, not failure.
The success of 140.6 miles.
The success of 5 years cancer-free.
The success of my current marriage, my current family, my amazing life.
Louisville is majorly hot in August. And I may be one of the only people who isn't worried about that heat. It's gonna warm the Ohio river, beat down on my back, turn my shoulders red and skin pink and when I fly across that finish line in the dark of night, that sun will have helped me melt a big ol' pile of nasty thinking.
20 weeks. In a way, it can't come fast enough.