Bits and Pieces

There’s this walk I take every weekend.

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It’s really more of a hike — the first 65 minutes are 100% uphill — but I’m trying to be less particular about these things. It’s what my mom would call “a good walk.”

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It is a good walk. A great walk, when the mountains are out. You can’t really count on the clouds to cooperate in this neck of the woods, but when they do…

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Let’s linger here. Approximately 55 miles from our computer screens.

I don’t bring my phone with me on these walks. I used to, but at some point I realized I wasn’t really walking; I was really just searching for the next thing I could filter to death and put on Instagram. #sadtruth.

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These days, I like my hands free. I don’t even like to carry a key. One good thing to have come out of my running days: I learned how to loop any number of them into my laces.

I like to walk when it’s quiet. When the bakers are up but the baristas haven’t begun to trickle in yet. When the storefronts are still dark, and only the smell of baking bread is ready to waft out and greet me. Good morning. I whisper the words in my mind.

It’s a slow climb from here through suburbia to get to the woods. I don’t mind this part. This is where it really begins. I have my clearest, best thoughts on these walks.

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Something seems to happen when I watch the ground go from a glittery gray concrete to a well-worn patch of grass. It’s what doesn’t happen when I’m blinking back tears in bed, or sitting at my desk, trying to write something different. Things start to make a quiet sort of sense.

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I’m emerging from a very confusing time. For years and years putting on weight was bad, and then all of a sudden it was good. It was so good, and so necessary, and GO HANNAH, and we’re so proud of you.

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I would eat and be completely unsure about how to feel. Was I ashamed or was I proud? Am I a loose cannon or am I normal? Had I been good or had I been bad?

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All of the comforting little rules I’d had and eventually agreed to abandon — they were my life. Those parameters told me how to go about the complex business of living, inside and outside of breakfast/lunch/dinner.

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This didn’t really register until the re-feed was well underway, but I’d been curbing/controlling/regulating my emotions through diet and exercise for years. So it’s no wonder that now I’m struggling to sit with all of the ups and downs and 10 trillion uncertainties. (There are just so many. For you too?)

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It is true that I could not have jammed larger/more difficult transitions into the last 12 months. Big life changes won’t always come so fast or so furiously. Things will settle down some. They already have, in fact. But now there is another worry: that there will be many more months of feeling exactly the same as I do right now. (Isolated and lonely and afraid and blah, blah, blah, you’ve heard it all a thousand times before.)

Part of the problem is my perspective. 8 months ago I didn’t have an apartment or a job or a single friend in the same city. Now I have all of 3 of those things. Plus financial independence, plus freedom from obsessing over food, plus energy for other interests.

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But I want the rest. I want the things that I promised myself I could have if only I got better. 8 months ago my life was as skeletal as my body. It’s rounding out some now, thanks to a friend from work and some others through Instagram (of all places!), but I want all of the usual things people have. Intimacy. A relationship. Weekend plans. New friends that feel like old friends. Some hours in every day not spent working or preparing food.

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The nice thing is, even when I get impatient, I don’t wonder if I’ve made the right choice. Having a tough time is 40x better when I’m not also completely incapable of doing anything after a burst of energy in the morning. Back then, I didn’t have the rest of the day to look forward to. Not when I couldn’t read more than a chapter in a book or sleep more than an hour at a time. Not when I certainly couldn’t go for these beloved walks.

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“The more you can be patient and take the long view, the more you’ll be rewarded in the end. My body four years ago, at (or just over) a healthy weight, was nothing like how it is today. Part of this is due to barbell training, but much of it is just time: time for fluid and fat to be redistributed, time for muscles and tendons to grow and be used and further strengthened, time for you to learn how to be at ease in your body and to get to know what it can do and what it can’t (yet). Nothing stays quite the same, ever, whether we want it to or not, but in the years following the restoration of a healthy bodyweight after anorexia, this constant mutability can be a source of delight, manifesting the human body’s miraculous ability to restore itself from the lowest point of deprivation. This depends, again, on bravery and strictness in resisting the urge to restrict and lose weight again because everything isn’t instantly how you’d like it to be. Give your body time, but also give it the best possible chance.”

“Your soul has fallen to bits and pieces. Good. Rearrange them to suit yourself.” -Hermann Hesse

{Grassy field via @sasha.swerdloff, cloudy sun via @roundtheworldgirl, rural A-frame via @andreadabene, placid lake via @bdorts, Oregon coast via @leiferiksmith, PNW road via @emitoms — on all Instagram.}

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4 thoughts on “Bits and Pieces

    • …and after reading your Ann Arbor piece, I want to ride down the Argo Cascades and eat lunch at Zingerman’s Deli and curl up in Literati Bookstore until dinner.

  1. Nothing about this did NOT make me happy. i reached for my phone to tell you, but realized I don’t have your number.

    I hope you are sincere about writing – you have a gift ❤️

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