Fifty weeks ago, I ran away from home. Since then, I’ve traversed 22 countries, slept in 72 beds, exhausted 11 pairs of running shoes, run 3504 miles, and befriended hundreds of the world’s finest humans.
After a spectacular final week with my parents (that update’s coming next), I’m back in Paris awaiting my final flight in the morning and the embrace of a curly, blonde Wombmate that wouldn’t dare be late for the most important pick-up of his life or show his face at DFW in anything but a bedazzled pair of red, white and blue overalls.
The mature, insightful follow-up to this tornado of a year is probably a reflection on the sights I’ve seen, discoveries I’ve made, challenges I’ve overcome, and growth I’ve experienced since July 2012. But there’s only one place that’s on my mind right now, and it packs more punch and pride in its panhandled, bumpy-tailed border than anywhere I’ve traveled and is consuming every last bit of brain capacity I have. So I’m going to let my thoughts of Texas and home run as wild as the legs that bolted away from there twelve months ago as I list, in no particular order, some of the things that I’m most looking forward to returning to:
- Real-life, face-to-face family and friend time! I could end here since it’s far and away my #1 source of excitement, but I’ll go on.
- Texas and everything good about it: TexMex, blue bonnets, summer nights, thunder storms, steak, country music, southern hospitality, and that beautiful Dallas skyline.
- The freedom of driving a car (and the expertise of a tried and true driver’s ed teacher, Prof. Kim Wade)
- Holidays at home with my main people. Christmas 2013 will be the first one in FOUR years that all 4 Wade kids will be home together, and ecstatic doesn’t even scratch the surface of my feelings about that.
- My own room and Rachel’s cozy bed (thanks, Sis!)
- A familiar kitchen and all the tupperware, spices, and grocery store trips my heart desires
- My favorite running spots, which have endured more pounding by my feet over the years than is fair: White Rock Lake, Norbuck Park, Rice track, Outer Loop, Herman Park, Jesuit track, Town Lake…
- Timeless traditions and routines that I’ve missed sorely: coffee and pedis with Deb, dinner parties with my Dallas buds, embarrassingly frequent Hungry’s dinners with Rach and Les, holiday prep with Mom, Bread Runs with Dad, pre-race Starbucks stops with Jim, Ruggles with my team, etc.
- My piano and the banjo the Meltons so generously left for me to master
- Getting to pick from more than 5 outfits every day (but let’s be real– I’ll still wear running clothes 90% of the time)
- A fresh dayplanner and the ability to get back into a routine and make all of my own plans
- A life without let-lag, adapters, time zone calculations, metric and currency conversions, luggage, language barriers, and a reliance on Skype (for at least a little while)
- Early morning coffee, newspapers, crosswords, and animal-watching at our big kitchen table
- My favorite stores and restaurants: Whole Foods, Hungy’s, fro-yo, Breadwinners, Celebrity, Target, Anthro, etc.
- Regular gym, training room, and ice bath access (yep, I said it!)
- Having a phone (although it has been pretty awesome being basically unreachable for the past year)
So what’s next? First, some stability, familiarity, and as much family and friend time as I can convince them is necessary. After a month or two of getting my life sorted out at home, training hard, helping out at my parents’ law office, and starting to process the last twelve months, I’ll move back to Houston for at least this fall. Under the guidance of Jim, my trusted coach for six years and counting, I’ll take a leap into the daunting, exhilarating world of post-collegiate running while assuming a volunteer assistant role at Rice, holding a part-time job, and figuring out what my next big step will be. The only thing I’m sure about at this point is that I want to give professional running my all while I’m still young and fresh. But where? Texas, Colorado, California, D.C, or elsewhere? At what distance do I truly belong? And how will I occupy the time outside of running? Graduate school is likely, but where and in what discipline?
There’s plenty of time ahead to mull all of that over. For now though, about a year after fleeing the coop, there’s only one place my heart and mind belong: my snug, familiar, memory-laden nest in Dallas, Texas, with its root-busted driveway, fragrant magnolia trees, enormous kitchen window, and perfect layout for two parents and two sets of twins.
From the depths of my heart, with its Texas-shaped hole that will be plugged by this time tomorrow, I appreciate y’all sticking with me during my sensational Watson journey. Your support and prayers mean more than I can express and brightened what would have been had a much rougher romp through all those unfamiliar territories and new faces. As fun as it has been describing my journey through this blog, I’m really looking forward to giving my computer and timezone calculations a rest after a few final posts, and catching up with each of you in person in the coming weeks. So those of you currently in Texas– get ready to be squeezed like anaconda prey and to fill me in on your past year. And those of you in other states and other countries– let’s figure out how to cross paths in either your or my stomping grounds as soon as we can. (That means you, hosts who have welcomed me into your home like a long-lost daughter. My door’s as open as yours was and I hope you’ll find that out for yourselves.)
Sayonara, nomadic life… Here I come, Texas!