Friday, July 8, 2016

A sunburn's what I needed

For the first time in a long time I’m on a plane right now headed back to the West and I won’t have a two-hour-10-minute drive up to Flagstaff. I’ll have a 30 minute drive to the basement that I sleep in.
I can’t bring myself to call anywhere but Michigan ‘home’, and that’s rightfully so. This was a last-minute trip, and I went back to try to find a piece of myself that I thought I had maybe lost. I’m not sure if I found it, or if it was lost in the first place, or what that piece really was or is but I left feeling smarter, more loved, and that I love more. This is, undoubtedly, due to the people I was able to see – the people that I will always make the effort to see.

On this trip I met Ian. Ian Matthew Wittenberg is a perfect six-and-a-half-month old human that has spawned from two of the most incredible people I’ve met in my life. Katie Wittenberg was my first running partner. She taught me how to cure a side-stitch, she gave me my first gel to eat, her rambling stories are what have gotten me through several painful long runs, and a way of talking that I have fully adopted over the years. She was the first person to believe in any athletic ability I had in the sport, ran my first race with me, and has continually helped remind me that the root of the footsteps must come from the love for the sport – otherwise it is empty. She has heard my relationship problems and baked me an oversized lemonade cake when I graduated and I remember when she made her final car payment.
Matt Wittenberg is one of the funniest people I’ve ever met, and we’ve exchanged several glances in social situations which we perceive awkward (read: all social situations). As I grew as a runner I watched Matt push through injuries and mental battles that, to this day, still help me through my own. I still don’t know anyone with as many pairs of running shoes as him or lists on their iPhone Notes. Branching off of that, he’s the only other person I know who writes their grocery lists on their phone and gets satisfaction from erasing the items. Matt taught me there is only one way to car dance to Rihanna’s “We Found Love” and that is with your whole heart. I feel like I was at Matt and Katie’s wedding because I know the day through Katie’s words. I will also never forget their anniversary, because it is 6 September.
Ian was born the day after I left Michigan this past Christmas. And as I listened to all of the details of him being born I got goosebumps and my eyes filled with tears of love, because these two beautiful humans now have Ian. And Ian has no idea how rad his parents are.

And there’s Nick Chard. Until this trip home I haven’t been able to catch up with him while he’s not working. Nick taught me to laugh at customers that pissed me off as a server. This has transferred effortlessly into a significant way I live my life. He taught me (and Emily) to tornado kick, to be patient while building a gingerbread house, to tactfully leave behind friends that aren’t really friends, and that making people laugh is truly the best gift one human can give another. I have countless, vivid memories of Nick over my four years at Bravo and they all involve the most genuine kind of laughter. He’s now a husband and a father of three, and as I become a more critical beer drinker after working in breweries, he continues to impress me as a brewer. 

And there is Amanda, who has beautiful blonde hair and an even more beautiful soul, complete with the most infectious laugh. Amanda planted the love for stouts and porters in me years ago, and for that I am forever grateful. She is one of the most driven people I’ve ever met, and I am inspired truly inspired with my own career after hearing her speak about hers. After every conversation I have with Amanda, I’m left missing her more but with a certain kind of excitement about life. Amanda is one of those (very few) people that makes my life significantly better.

And I remember the day I met Gayle Gracia. It was a Monday and the previous day was the day that Joe had left me for the last time. I met her and immediately purged all of my events of the day before to her (indirectly – I was talking to Val, who was with Gayle at the time, standing at the host stand at Bravo). I remember Gayle nodding and shaking her head along with my story, and as I walked away Val said “You’re better off, baby.” And without turning my head I shouted “Yeah, fuck him,” into an empty dining room. This was the beginning of Gayle being my relationship counselor for the next five(+) years. Rightfully so, because this fall Gayle is starting her PhD in Counseling at OSU. I stand by my offering of her to use my atrocious lack of patience and effort in relationships in her classes or with fellow patients. Gayle also has the coolest fucking glasses ever, and no one besides her could ever pull them off. Her husband, Nate, is the perfect compliment. He also once cooked me a breakfast to die for.

No matter which version of me you or I have known in the past 27 years, all know that my mom lives on a lake, and I think it’s the best place in the world. It is my home, and it is always where I’m most comfortable. I sat on the deck looking through the trees and as the forever familiar breeze brushed my sunburned legs I thought about all of the people I’ve been on that deck. I’ve been a child, an angsty teenager, a smoker, a drug experimenter, a Graduate student, a runner, an ultrarunner, a climber, drunk, sober, high, a writer, a server, a bartender, broken-hearted, commited and a heartbreaker. And they all matter. I cannot tell if one is more important than the other, but some are forgotten, whether that’s due to time brushing away the edges or choosing to leave parts of life behind I can’t ever really be sure.  

I woke up in Colorado finding myself confused as to why I was waking up in Colorado. A part of me can’t even remember how I got there or why, or what the hell I’m doing. So I freaked out. And I came home. And I spent time with people that I find inspiring and that I miss so much. And I went tubing with my brother and may have damaged my vocal chords because at age 27 skipping across water towards manmade waves is absolutely terrifying. And as I screamed to my brother “Mom is trying to kill me! Mom is seriously trying to kill me!” He shouted back through laughter “You climb the fucking Rocky Mountains! What are you scared of?!”

And Giselle said it best right before I went back to Michigan.
“We don’t travel and move places to ‘find ourselves’. We do it to create ourselves and become the people we always wanted to be. At least that’s how I see it. So who do you want to be, Kels?”
(-Giselle Fernandez)

Ladies and Gentlemen, on behalf of Frontier Airlines we’d like to welcome you to Denver, Colorado. The local time is 5:27p.m. and 80 degrees. Whether this is your final destination or just your connection, we hope you enjoy your time here.

I’m trying to enjoy my time here. And I don’t think it’s a secret that I’m struggling.

1 comment

  1. I'm so glad I was able to see you when you where in town. I enjoyed catching up, drinking beer (or cider in my case), and laughing with you and Amanda. I love you.