I am hardly a runner.
It took me years of running and half a dozen marathons to even be able to consider the possibility of using the word. I guess I am not big into labels. Finally, a friend yelled at me, “You are a runner because you run!”
Oh yeah, I guess that makes sense. So now I am a runner — kind of. I am not fast any more, or technical, and typically I find my place at the back of the pack pretty quickly, but my shoes are always dirty, so I guess that makes me a runner … or maybe a hiker … or maybe a biker … or maybe I toss my shoes aside and just swim. Whatever.
What I do know is this: I have always been reprimanded for inadvertently dragging some of the outside in with me, and even as an adult the scolding has yet to stop.
My husband was packing for a ski trip and came across my muddy shoes once again. He emerged from the closet with a pair of grimy Salomon trail shoes and held them up with just 2 fingers, as if they were contagious. He clenched his jaw, met my eyes, and held my gaze, “Hey, these cannot live in the closet.”
I am never sure about all the fuss.
I glanced over his shoulder to the trail of dried dirt which meandered its way through the bedroom and stopped in the closet. I was training for a big race, and sometimes the last mile of getting your shoes off is harder than it sounds. I was proud of myself for making it to the closet at all. But I guess I was more tired than I thought. It was apparent I had taken off my Salomons in the middle of the floor and thrown them toward the wall behind the shoe rack. There was a dirty spot against the white paint (I mean really, who paints a shoe rack white anyway?) and a pile of mud laid on the floor where my shoes had arbitrarily landed. Judging by the dirt-tinged coloring of my ‘white’ rack, this was certainly not my first offense.
I am not one to walk away from a challenge. I am fully capable of defending my shoes. I walked up to my husband and stared him straight in the eyes. I have never lost a staring contest in my life, and it was not about to happen. His face slowly broke into a smile, then a laugh, and … we were both certain he was never angry and was flirting with me.
Since then, my shoes live in the garage, right on the steps by the door. Honestly, I believe this is the best case for all parties involved. I am not about to wash those shoes. What I am prepared to do is defend my mess. My husband does have a point. I do track in a hell of a lot of mud. Nevertheless, I am tired of feeling shame, and I am ready to own it. I am the woman who tracks in mud, and as of now, I am proud of it.
But then again, this is bigger than just me. I am not just the woman who tracks in mud. I am Everywoman. I am the she who struggles to balance work, motherhood and marriage. I am the she who rarely ever gets anything right and who is never really sure where she fits into society. I am the she who must lace up her shoes and walk out on her life for a while, so she can clear her head, understand herself, and then fully re-engage.
I am the she who tracks in mud to make sense of it all.
But I am just one of many.
These are my stories, some of them old and some of them new. But I am just one of many shes whom I would like to invite to share adventures of their own.