Monday, August 15, 2011

Penn Relays

I woke up this morning with a memory. I don't know how it connected to what I may have dreamed before it. It was just there. And when things are there and they don't belong anywhere else I put them here. (Just so you know how this works.)

When I was in high school I ran track. I was a sprinter. I never had the legs to endure long races. I was the kind of person who believed she could do anything in the shortest distances. I would run until my feet bled, until my legs ached, until I couldn't breathe, until I needed to vomit, whatever it took to get it done.

My sophomore year, my coach invited me to go to the Penn Relays, the largest track and field competition in the states, but I wasn't allowed to race with the rest of the girls, a team of seniors who had more experience than I did. I was to learn. And before I could even get on the bus, I was forced to watch endless videos of past relay teams from our high school as my coach analyzed every start and finish, every baton hand-off, the way the girls sprinted the straight-aways, how they took the turns.

All of this, so I could sit in the stands and watch everyone else run.

My coach told me it was a privilege to miss school and attend this event. But I wanted to race.

When I thought of the Penn Relays this morning, I pictured the blazing burnt orange track beneath me (it may not be orange but this is how I remember it) so far away from the blur of colors I sat with.

I have mixed feelings about this memory. On the one hand, I think what a brat I was to believe I somehow deserved to race before I was ready. On the other, I wonder why this coach made me attend so I could sit by myself and hope to one day be there for real. (I was never invited again.)

I am not a patient person. I know this. And so, I wake up every day wanting to do a million things and I say to myself: Take your time. Sit back. Learn.

But I also know that I am the kind of person who falls so easily into the role of observer rather than participant. Sometimes I accept the fact that I am invisible and I remain unseen.

Lately, and I don't know what has triggered this, I am sick and tired of reigning myself in. Lately, I do not feel it is privilege be there. I do not feel it is enough to stand back. I want to be in it.


  1. It's that creative spirit that is hard for some to encompass. Sometimes, it seems easier to sit back in the second row rather than be straining to be out there first, letting rip with the ideas etc. I understand this so well. And when one does try, then often it is knocked back because it is in advance of other minds there. I write this not to sound big headed, but to show empathy with a lateral thinker. BUT, do not be lulled and when you get the chance .... run, run, run with your ideas ..... because they are uniquely yours.

  2. I love this post, Melissa. I am feeling the same way right now--like there is a well spring of something in me waiting to be released. What it is? I have no idea...but I too am ready to release it! Beautiful post.

  3. This was so honest. Recognizing that you hold yourself back usually hits when you are older. Get in the race.

  4. hi miss melissa!
    you were a sprinter! wow how cool is that! now it sounds like you got lots of energy inside just waiting for you to let it go. so get into your supersonic missmelissacandoanything nikes and just do it!
    ...hugs from lenny

  5. a sprinter, huh? well, you must have more patience than u give yourself credit for being a writer!!