Between the hours of 6pm on Tuesday evening and 1pm Wednesday afternoon, I had spent way too much time staring at the news in shock, crying while watching Hillary’s concession and then Obama’s comments, and staring into space while the pup sat in my lap. I had to do at least one thing to start recovering: run. As we women will do.
The sun was out earlier, while Obama talked to us from outside his Oval Office. His eyes were squinting in its brightness. I took the pup out immediately after, to feel that warmth. I’ll run today. I’ll feel this on my skin. I’ll remember that each day will continue on. That the sun does rise again. We’re still here.
When I leave three hours later, the gray clouds are back and the sky is dripping. It feels more appropriately grim. I have a hat and long sleeves to protect me from the elements, though they don’t feel as aggressive as I had expected. I start slow. Steady. Easy. Be gentle.
The first stoplight I reach has a vocal electronic crosswalk signal. It says, “WAIT!” I won’t. The red hand turns to the white pedestrian, just in time. No hesitation.
I’m mostly alone on the trail. It is only 3:30 on a Wednesday afternoon, after all. But it doesn’t feel like a work day, or a Wednesday, or even a real day. It feels wrong that we didn’t get a day to mourn such a significant loss of social and economic progress. But here we are. My feet are still moving.
I pass a man with his suit jacket thrown over his shoulder, phone to hear, mouth chatting, opposite hand holding an open bottle of Bud Light. He’s casually walking up the trail, drinking and talking. Because men do whatever the fuck they want.
I stop to let the Key Bridge traffic pass in a hurry, as we always are. It’s OK to pause. It’s OK to catch a breath.
I’m on the Mount Vernon trail, which goes directly to George Washington’s historic estate. I pass Roosevelt’s island; I see Kennedy’s performing arts center; I look ahead at Lincoln’s memorial right in front of Washington’s monument. Far to my right, I catch a glimpse of Robert E. Lee’s memorial. The men of our country’s past.
Because I know where to look, I can also see windows of the Department of State building, where three of the last five Secretaries have been women. Madeleine, Condoleeza, and Hillary. Finally. There we are.
This trail is covered in fallen leaves, but the trees are still holding on to some life. Why is it that we only truly notice and appreciate these trees when they’re covered in a variety of colors? We see the yellows, reds, oranges, and golden browns and we’re in awe. Why don’t we appreciate and embrace diversity in our own human race?
I’m already back to the path that leads to the Iwo Jima memorial. I (very slowly) charged up this hill just ten days ago, at the tail end of 26.2 miles. It feels similarly laborious today. But we don’t appreciate the things that are easy. We get complacent instead of courageous.
It’s a slow return to consistency–steady pace, frequent miles, repeated actions. Progress doesn’t happen by chance. We have to be an active player. We can’t just wish to be somewhere. We have to put things in motion to get there.
I’m home. I’m overheated because I didn’t need long sleeves, but it’s comforting to feel warm. Hot. Charged. Fatigued, but fired up. There will be another run, another day, another election, another chance. We will run with it.
Head up, wings out. We’re just getting started.