why we run

Kim died on Sunday.

I hadn't thought that losing someone I hadn't seen, or even talked to, in years would undo me the way it did; I thought I was ready. But she was the kind of person who makes you feel better, just knowing her light is in the world, and I know people always say things like that about people who have died, but about her, it's true. She was her own kind of magic. On Monday I took the torn-up wreck of my third book out to Montauk, with the idea of putting it back together again into something resembling a novel, but the first night I drank too much instead, and cried, and cried, and cried.

On my second day at the beach I dragged myself out of bed to go running--it was Kim, all those years ago, who'd told me to run a marathon, and I didn't want to let her down, and I still have to get myself in shape because I'm still here and in November I have to run twenty-six miles in a row and right now the most I can do is seven--and drew a K on my wrist in black pen (Mairead's idea) and ran six miles, down the beach and back. It's been so humbling having that 'give up' feeling but I think having it has given me an even bigger lust for getting back to my life in all its glory, she wrote, for all of us. At the end of my run I went into the freezing water and thought how unfair it was, that I was standing in the ocean, when Kim was the one who loved surfing and I can barely swim. I went inside and looked at all the pictures of Kim in my facebook feed, and cried some more, and that night I drank too much again and watched the terrible travesty of the Baz Luhrmann Gatsby on the hotel television, and cried again and thought Kim would have hated this, but that was only melodrama and being drunk. I have no idea what Kim would have thought of that movie. On my third day at the beach, I wrote all day and only drank two beers, and I thought maybe I was done crying but cried while I was thinking it, so I guess not, but my book was something like a book again. I put her in it. Just for a moment, but she's there.

On the morning of my last day at the beach all I wanted to do was sit on the porch and cry again and smoke one of my boyfriend's cigarettes and I went outside to do it, even, with my coffee, and I looked down and there was that smeary K still on my wrist, and I could see her, standing there rolling her eyes being like You dumbass, what's wrong with you, go running. Kim who ran three miles a day, every day, until she was too sick to do it anymore; Kim who wanted nothing more than to be out in the world surfing and biking and climbing and hiking and being in love and being a badass; Kim who taught me how to true the wheels on my bike; Kim who was better at being alive than almost anyone I've ever met, and so I went inside and put my running shorts on, and ran down the beach in the bright sun with a cold hard wind in my face, and some people out walking their dogs waved to me and I waved back because they didn't know I was still crying, they didn't know Kim died on Easter Sunday, which is the most metal day I can think of to die. They didn't know I was only out there because I could hear her yelling at me in my head: go faster, go harder, be stronger, do more; all they knew was that I was just another healthy person out next to the wide blue sea.

I came back from the beach and yesterday I told my best friend about Kim and it was the first time I'd said her name in six days without crying so I said it again just to be sure, and I'm crying now, but you know, sometimes shit hurts. Reading Leslie Jamison and thinking Fuck, I don't want to be the wound either, I'm tired of being the wound, sometimes I just want to be a person, sometimes I just want to be asleep. We don't get to pick. I just hit send on the pretty-much-all-the-way-done third draft of my third book and it's either ruined or it's basically finished, and I'm too much of a mess right now to tell, but I'm going to get up tomorrow morning and redraw the K on my wrist in sharpie, and go running again, I'm going to run all the way through spring and into summer, I'm going to run until I'm so strong no more hurt can catch me, and on November second I'm going to write KIM MOTHERFUCKING FERN on my chest in letters so big she'll be able to see them from wherever she is now, and she'll know, then, that all that running was for her.