Treinta

She’s 30 years old. Thirty. Treinta. She can’t believe it. She made it. She thought she was going to be gone way before this age. But no, she’s still here. She wonders what she’ll do with this new age. She wonders about how she made it. She’s really surprised that she made it. She doesn’t mind it actually. It helps that she doesn’t look thirty. It helps also that she has an epiphany. She made it this far so she might as well start taking care of herself. She decides to make sure she makes it to the next treinta. Reaching this age means she’s not going anywhere any time soon. There’s another life she wants to experience. The one after treinta. She will not invite Death in anymore. She leaves Death outside in the cold and tosses out Depression. She doesn’t need him either. She knows Depression will come back. Every once in a while when she least expects it but she knows she broke up with Depression first and doesn’t need to let him back in any time soon.

“Buh bye you bastards! You made my first treinta very miserable!”

She thinks about the most challenging thing that she could do and  googles “L.A. Marathon.” She registers. Not really thinking about all the work. If she thinks about it, she’ll never do it and she’s treinta and it’s her birthday and click! It’s paid for. She’s never been particularly sporty. She failed P.E. Never even bothered to put on the gym clothes. She’s in. Training program and all. The following Saturday she’s out on her first three mile run and doesn’t finish. She has to turn back. But she returns every Saturday even after she realizes she needs better shoes because her toenail has turned black and it will fall off.

She wakes up early on weekends even though she’s not a morning person and does her “homework runs” on her own. She buys the energy gels and new shoes and the water bottles and she guzzles down electrolytes. She falls a couple of times. She scrapes her knees, she gets injured, and she rests. But she’s back out there as soon as she can. She runs, and runs and runs. She remembers the miles she walked when she was a kid. She remembers that she never thought she would reach treinta. And this makes her run faster. She makes friends. Friends who encourage her. Friends who teach her form and tell her how to stretch and tell her that she’s doing great. Her confidence becomes stronger. Death and Depression no longer wait for her outside her apartment door. She likes it that way and smiles.

In the beginning she doesn’t listen to music when she runs. She likes the sound of her feet hitting the ground. She talks to people during the run. She’s not intimidated anymore. She’s not scared. She runs faster. She takes in the early morning air. She breathes it into her lungs. She’s alive at treinta. She introduces music and gets lost in the thoughts the lyrics create. She imagines herself running in Paris or Italy. Maybe some day. She wonders if she’ll ever run as fast as the Kenyans. Maybe some day. She runs, and runs and runs. Her hair moist from the sweat, the release of fear, the power her legs have as she moves forward.

Six miles, ten miles, sixteen miles, twenty miles and still she keeps going. She feels no pain, only the cold water on her lips as she runs past the water stations. She slaps someone’s hand and smiles when one of the spectator’s says her name in encouragement. Twenty-three miles! She’s not as fast as the Kenyans but, who cares? She’s treinta and she’s running a marathon! Twenty-six miles through the streets of Los Angeles. She can see the finish line. It’s at the top of a hill.

“Those bastards!”

But she makes it to the end.

She crosses the finish line and cries. She can’t believe it. She made it to treinta and she made it to the end of the marathon. She made it to the point where she needed to make a difference in her life. She made it to the moment where someone put the medal around her neck and told her not to cry.

“No, no,” she tells them, “I’m happy. It’s a good thing. I made it. I did it. I can do this and more. I can do anything. I am free.”

She goes on to run two more. She’s hooked. She’s thriving. Treinta is in the past and it’s carried her to the present. She looks forward to her fourth race and the next, for as far as her legs can carry her.

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