March 08, 2010

Today I unpacked my bag from our trip to Utah.  Lying in the bottom of my suitcase was my workout clothes, still folded, undisturbed, and smelling faintly of fabric softener.  They looked lonely.  I sighed.  

I've been wondering why I always pack work out clothes on my trips, when I never wear them or work out while I'm out of town.  Is it just good intentions, whose path I've been told leads to dark places?  Is it guilt, which I've been told is just anger directed at myself?  Or am I just filling my trip with a small piece of false hope-- as if just looking at the worn fabric and scuffed soles of my shoes will add a little buoyancy to my days.

I'm not sure if the solution to this problem is to make a goal to stop packing work out clothes on my trips, or to start working out on my trips.  Both thoughts make me cringe.  One limits my possibilities, and the other forces me into something I may not want to do.  

I remember a trip to Florida with my family years ago.  I was training for a marathon and I made my little brother run 20 miles with me on the long humid roads by our hotel.  It was dark and I think we saw an alligator run across our path.  The rain drizzled on us the whole time.  We came back drenched in sweat and rain and Florida dirt.  My brother refused to run with me again.  I spent the week running and walking up flights of stairs to our hotel room.  I felt strong, alive, and happy.

I think this is what I'm holding onto when I pack for my trips-- the wish of seeing the world on equal footing.  To explore it's ground and beauty with wind and dirt whirling past me.  

Perhaps this is where that sigh was born.

So for now I think I will continue to pack my old running shoes and workout clothes.  And who knows?  Maybe sometime soon, I'll bring them back home and throw them on top of the laundry pile, worn and happy and filled with new memories.