Ah, yes. That is the text that changed the course of my year. May 7, 2016.
I'd been in Bend less than four months. I intended to be in Bend much longer, but plans changed after a night out with Todd while visiting home for the week. We'd spent a matter of hours together -- ever -- in our lives, and I knew. So I texted my mom, as I do.
It's been 238 days since May 7, 2016. Seven months and 24 days. My instinct stands true.
I meant for 2016 to be a monumental year of running. I'd moved to Oregon with beautiful scenery and high elevation. I joined a weekly speed workout group with an ultra running champ and made friends that would spend hours on the trails and roads every weekend. MS Run the US loomed on the horizon, certain to be my most monumental experience yet. I meant to run mile after mile after mile for months. I meant to enter 2017 strong and ready to blow the Boston Marathon out of the water.
And then I broke my pelvis.
Running in 2016 was not running.
I ran my last miles of the year yesterday, which, thankfully ended on a strong note. Fifteen good miles that helped me end the year a little more optimistic.
Being injured, though, sort of worked to my benefit. I learned to live my life in new ways. I learned to take a time out. I learned the importance of body maintenance. But mostly, that broken pelvis knocked me out of a marathon I was supposed to run on May 7, 2016, and instead I made other plans.
See? It all works out as it's meant to be.
I fell in love with Todd hard and fast in such an unconventional way -- from 2,000 miles away. Hours on FaceTime, text message conversations that spanned hours and days and, really, have never stopped. When I told my mom that first day that I'd met my soulmate, I MEANT IT.
By the end of May, I already booked another trip home. Sure, he'd be coming to Oregon at the end of July, but I could not possibly wait more than two months. I knew I loved him, but I hadn't told him. I couldn't just tell him I loved him for the first time from my living room in Bend while he sat on his own couch a $400 flight away. I was going to tell him as soon as I got home. The moment we reunited at the airport.
I... did not.
I chickened out. I chickened out the whole day at every perfect, possible moment. What if he didn't love me back? What hole would I crawl into that would be deep enough to suffocate my humiliation for eternity?
The next night, June 19, 2016, we stood on the shores of Lake Michigan watching the moon hit the waves. Beaches had become our thing. I still loved him. I still didn't say it. But then...
"I love you."
Said Todd. He always knows the right thing to say.
Bend. There isn't anything I haven't already written about Bend that could lend new feelings to the matter, but I can't discuss 2016 without mentioning it. I'll always be thankful for my detour in Bend. I made lifelong friends, I took care of myself, I experienced mountains, and I will never, ever forget a second of those eight months.
I experienced the kind of beauty for the first time that leaves you speechless and brings you to tears. I can only hope I'll be lucky enough to experience those things again one day.
Todd and I became the Adventure Squad in 2016. We crossed the Golden Gate Bridge, drove through a Redwood forest, stood in awe before Crater Lake, watched the sunset from atop Smith Rock, climbed the tiniest mountain in Bend, let the Pacific Ocean lap at our toes, and cried about a hundred million tears every time we had to say goodbye at an airport.
May 2017 bring even more adventure. And less goodbyes.
Home. It's where my year started and where my year ends.
Moving back home wasn't a difficult decision. Sure, the idea of home had changed. From one city in Wisconsin to another. From life with just a cat and a dog to life with my boyfriend and his daughter. But going home was never a tough choice.
What's taken me by surprise is the adjustment.
Change is difficult for a creature of habit. Finding a new normal in an unfamiliar world has been alarmingly difficult for me. I'm home, but I still don't quite feel home. I'm living my life, but I don't feel like I'm controlling it. It's as though I'm waiting for something to snap into place that just hasn't snapped yet.
I'll get there. I'm not going anywhere. A whole new year starts tomorrow, which is a concept I've always, always loved. I have everything to be thankful for and as much love as I could ever deserve.
Thanks, 2016. You did good.