when i was a freshman in high school, gawky, and strangely self assured, i ran on the track team. i wasn’t really all that good, but i loved being part of a team, and competing against myself. because i really wasn’t good enough to win any of the heats i ran in. one day stands out to me more than any other. we were running another meet, and i was running in the 100 meter dash. i wasn’t even running the best heat, i was more in the “they’re faster than walking, but not really our fastest runners” division. i remember the track, warm from the hot georgia sun, under my fingers. the anticipation in my legs as i got into the starting position, and then the gun. that day, i felt like i really was running. not just showing up for practice and hoping i could do the long jump instead. that day, it was like i felt it. a chance at winning. we sprinted down the track, a flurry of arms, legs and ponytails in the bright sunlight. i was in the 3rd lane from the inside, a decent starting position. and i couldn’t see anyone in front of me. in a second of lapsed judgement, while running as fast as my legs would carry me, i looked to my left. and in that second, instead of taking 2nd place, i fell into 4th. i remember my coach telling me to quit looking at the other runners, later, once it was too late to apply the lesson. i had actually had a chance at coming in 2nd, maybe even 1st if i had pushed harder. but instead, i looked behind me.
i’m still that runner. still that foolish girl who looks at the places i was, the person i was, the person i was becoming, instead of looking at where i’m going. who i am. who i’m becoming.
i made myself a cup of hot tea this morning, and noticed we were out of half and half. i had a tiny bit of heavy cream left from a butter making experiment, so i added it to my tea. black tea, heavy cream, and raw sugar, suddenly became a steaming cup of chai in a blistering apartment in the backstreets of a sikh neighborhood in new delhi. the taste was so similar, the smell so much like the tea we drank then. and i felt this indescribable longing for the person i once was. when i was so sure of my path, and who i was going to be. i don’t entirely like the path i’ve had to walk, and the person i’ve become while walking it. i don’t feel like i’m running anymore. more like i’m just showing up to practice, and hoping not to get picked for any meets. because i can’t run at all. i’m wandering the track, wishing someone would show me my lane. hoping not to get disqualified if i wander into someone else’s lane. hoping the coach won’t notice my longing to leave, and yet my overwhelming desire to run again keeps me here.
i’m about to register for classes at UGA. 10 years after graduating high school. and in many ways, i knew who i was more than i do now. i’m faltering in this journey, not because of hardship, but because of the lack of trials to focus on. i don’t know which direction to go, and i wish i was the person i used to be. because who i am right now, was never what i wanted. i want to have passion back. to actually want to show up and run, instead of slinking into the back row of the bleachers, hoping not to get asked to sprint. i’m asking God who i’m supposed to be. because i don’t know anymore. when i was a fresh faced girl, stepping off that plane in a hot new delhi night, i knew what i wanted. more than anything, i wanted to be there. i never wanted to leave the adventure of seeing God move in the earth. and i did anyway. 10 years later, i have many joys, and many regrets. and i’m tired of regretting things. i’m tired of wishing i had made better choices, wishing i had never strayed from the call i thought i heard so clearly. and not knowing how to answer the call i hear again. i hear Him calling me, to come up from the desert, and find Him. in the process, i’m hoping i’ll find myself again. and find the strength to run.