My Happy Place?

I grew up in the Midwest, and often find it hard to digest the fact that we’ve lived in the South longer than anywhere. There’s something about green spaces, lakes and big hills that feels like home. That’s why (while it’s technically West, not Midwest) our annual summer sojourn to Colorado always feels like a sort of respite or coming home. It’s my happy place, where the (very) early morning sun is a signal to lace up and run dirt or paved trails for hours on end.

morning run

So imagine the surprise when this place of God, dirt, clear air and running glory played host to what I’m going to forever affectionately call the Week from Hell.

Corona Beach!

Corona Beach!

This was to be a ‘working vacation.’ Hubby and I had our first real, extended, off-the-grid vacation in about six years this summer so our free time had been used up. (Used well, though. As an aside, the BVI is unimaginably incredible.)

But even working in Colorado meant time to run in the morning, hit the local rodeo at night, cook out, hike with the kids and hike up a big old mountain over the weekend.  Alas, it was not meant to be. The week that was is actually a bit laughable in hindsight. Thought you might get a kick out of it. Or not.

sunsetOkay, admittedly, there were some great runs. There was rodeo fun and cooking out with the family. But there was no trail dirt to be had.

You know how they say things happen in threes?


Our first morning, mid-way through my early morning adventure, I get a text from Dad that goes something like this… “FYI, your mom is in the hospital. Don’t worry. Just thought you should know.” I should preface by saying that we’re a really close family and my mom, in the hospital, is in Florida. FREAKING Florida – all the way across the country. But don’t worry. The hospital is no biggie, right? (Is my sarcasm coming through clearly? Super.)

After talking with her to hear from the source that she’d be okay, I calmed down a little, instructed her to Facetime me so I could see she was okay, called my sibs to get the real scoop and proceeded to do what I could – worry and pray like any good daughter/mom/God loving gal. (She had a few days in and is fine.)

So that was Friday.

Sunday, we’re at the park. It’s an outdoor jazz concert on a beautiful night. It’s light out and I was holding a place by the playground, drinking a lovely local brew. The grandparents and hubby were laying out our blanket on the lawn and the kids were on the playground. The kids are 9 and 12, so I was not actively playing with them (did I mention the lovely local brew? I’m a shitty mom.)

If you’re a parent, you know that deep, stomach wrenching feeling you get hearing a scream that you know belongs to one of your own. I was on my feet in less time than it took my brain to register what was happening. A man I didn’t know was running across the playground – very carefully – with my daughter in his arms. She’d jumped off a swing but didn’t land it. Her arm was twisted like one of those wires you put around a bread bag. She was making that awful screaming sound. The series of events that followed included grabbing my husband and in-laws, locating my son, putting my sweet girl in a car headed for the hospital, holding my son while he cried and vomited because he was so worried about his sister, finding and thanking the unnamed guy who’d picked her up so gingerly… then biking home and doing the only thing I could think to do – bake her a cake, pray, and text my husband incessantly for the next five hours.

She came home with a reset arm, a souvenir heavy plaster splint, a greenstick fracture and a few new barbie dolls. I had a mild heart attack.

Not really, but I did end up in the ER two days later. This is getting fun, right? We were all set for an early morning flight home. Up at 5am, all going well. Packed, about 15 minutes to departure and I was going to pull the sleepy kids out of bed, put a baggie of cereal and water bottle in their hands, and head for the airport. That was, until I was hit with the most unimaginable pain on the planet. I should preface this by saying that I’ve had back labor. I’ve run four marathons. I’ve broken bones and nearly cut off a finger. If I put them all together in a blender, gave them a spin and poured them in a juice glass, it wouldn’t come close to this intensity. (Thank goodness my father in law is a doctor and we had already become somewhat familiar with the local ER.)

Diagnosis? I passed a freaking kidney stone and then went into colic (that’s abdominal spasms). Awesome. A CT scan and healthy dose of morphine later, I was all set. Apparently, I was slightly less than lucid for hours. I have vague recollections of sobbing out something like, “I’m tougher than this,” then blacking out. On the upside, I did do some really creative writing work later in the day and lost a few pounds.

And in the spirit of optimism, I’m thinking that perhaps the weeks my body spent trying to pass the rock may account for the craptastic running I’ve done this summer. At least I hope so, or I can presume all the great racing of the past couple of years over and done.

So that was three. It only took two more days of failed flights to get back to Atlanta. But those fun travel stories will be for another day.

photo-79I can safely say, I’ve never been so happy to leave my Western happy place to return to the rainy South. (And next summer will be here before we know it.) On the really positive side, if ever there was a girl blessed with an incredible set of in-laws, it’s this girl. (If you’re reading and you know who you are…thanks.)

By way of closing, I’ve been horribly remiss about keeping up with the blog. Lots of writing for others these days. Since this is as much a journal for my own aging memory as it is for the possibility of your reading pleasure, a  few highlights since Boston in April…

  • Turned 40
  • Kiddo turned 12 so I guess he’s officially a Tween (pray for me)
  • Jumped off a 35 foot cliff in the BVI (only hyperventilated for a few minutes first)
  • Had a course PR at the Peachtree Road Race (okay, not totally awful running, but pretty bad)
  • Started training for the next marathon (ready or not, Savannah, here we come)

How ya been?


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