Coarse

I felt irritable and crotchety. This is an excerpt from a piece I wrote last spring…

No specific reason, but generally I’m irritatble. I have been consistently exercising, and eating well for the most part. I’m getting enough sleep. The kids are doing as well as can be expected despite the pandemic and limited social interaction. They are finding ways to seek and spread joy. (And play all the computer games.) We are reading at night, spending as much time outdoors during the day as is possible, anxiously anticipating the warmth of the coming months.

I feel like sandpaper. A coarse grit sandpaper rubbing on a rough plank with lots of slivers stuck up every which way. While I know the plank will eventually be smooth, right now it’s a matter of knocking the little flecks off and rounding off the sharp edges. The edges lately have been words like COVID, pandemic, restrictions, ‘We’re in this together’, and all of the 9568 emails regarding school schedules and plans and contingency plans and plans for after the contingencies. I’m tired of the monotony. I think like many of us, I just want to feel a kind of normal. Not what was. Not the going backward to the “before times”. Just a new even keel. Whatever that is, just some kind of way that doesn’t feel uncomfortable and scratchy. The now is definitely uncomfortable, awkward and like the scratchiest pair of pants.

Ever.

As a trainer, I used to tell clients to get comfortable being uncomfortable. That’s where the magic happens, where change resides. Holding a squat or sprinting on a bike lasts for minutes at a time. Minutes – even a class – of uncomfortable, we can sit in and endure. Not a dang year. People-ing is hard. People-ing lately is pretty darn uncomfortable. A year of the uncomfortable is exhausting. And grating….frustrating, and, and, and….all the range of the covid coaster of emotions. I’m ready to be done with the sandpaper edges. For the slivers to be dust on the floor, the smell of the sawdust a distant memory.

I laugh at the then-year that had passed. It’s been 18 months of the not-normal. We camped and played all summer. It was a nice little break, but now that the kids have been back in school (and in person, with masks and distancing) it all feels so incredibly real and heavy once again. I came across a post from a teacher friend that for a 7th grader, 4th grade was their last uninterrupted “normal” school year. It came in the form of this graphic:

It took me a second to figure out that it was in fact the spring break of my son’s 5th grade year and my daughter’s 4th grade year that spring break we all went home and it hasn’t been normal since. Now in 7th and 6th they have adapted, as we all have – though knowing that none of this is ideal. In addition to the coarseness that I felt in the spring – I would add a numbness to it, too. A friend and I were recently discussing that it feels never-ending. Monotonous. Tiring.

Endurance is my jam. I can hang with the low and slow crowd forever. Running long distances was a love of mine for a long time. Now that I cycle more, endurance rides make me feel amazing without blowing up my legs. This covid era feels like a race where the finish line keeps getting extended. How long is the race? Dunno. How long will it take? Not sure. Water station? Ehhhh, they may be all out. Apparently we just have to keep going in spite of not being trained for this.

I’m not sure I need the finisher t-shirt for this particular race.

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