It’s been one of those days when I constantly wonder how I am going to function for the next five minutes. Mike and I are wading in the cloudy waters of trying to purchase our first home. Turns out no matter how orderly your affairs are, the banks and the government can still sneer as you squirm under their magnifying glass in the sun.
Dealing with mortgage paperwork today grew so simultaneously intense and depressing that I had to leave work. Granted, leaving at 3:30 when I show up at 7:15 isn’t that big of a deal, but it felt dramatic. I hurried out of the building and then walked slowly through the rain to my car. And then I wet my face with my own tears for the entire ride home.
It seemed the tears and the rain weren’t enough to rinse my attitude, so I thought a run would be more effective. It didn’t feel like exercise; it felt like survival. I ran straight into the wind and dared it to take me down. I thought surely it would.
It’s funny how much faster my thoughts come when I’m motoring down the sidewalk. It’s like my legs force my brain to crank out negativity at twice the going rate. That might sound counterproductive, but in fact it serves to cut my overall catharsis in half…thirty minutes running equals one hour of crying.
I glanced up quickly to see who had hollered at me. I saw a man with long dark hair, holding a Coors Light in one hand and a bag of his possessions in the other.
“Hey…” I barely replied, since speaking to strangers on the street tends to freak me out. He was standing under a busstop for protection from the rain and I was approaching, about to pass by.
“Beautiful,” he said quietly. I looked at him again. What?
“BEAUtiful,” he said again, this time more emphatically. I’ve been called various lewd things by people on the street before, but this word wasn’t among them. And oddly, this didn’t seem creepy, because he didn’t seem to mean it to be.
It took me a couple of paces to consider this, but by then I was past him so I hurridly glanced back. He gave a small, humble smile. Somehow, incredibly, I felt it was fully intended for me to feel loved — not by him, of course, but by God. I know that comes across as though I am on my fourth martini to be writing that, but I really believe it.
Sometimes I put God in too small a space and then I lecture Him by saying He can only reach out to me in three specific ways: prayer, the Bible, and trusted friends. Then He promptly ignores my lecture and shocks me by using a scraggly stranger to call me beautiful on the street.
And let me tell you, beautiful I was not. My hair clung to my face from the rain, my clothes were soaked in water and sweat, and I was probably as red as a cosmo in a cold glass.
I started to cry as I ran, which is just as awkward as it sounds, especially when there are forty cars crossing Mercer in rush hour traffic. I imagined them in their cars saying to their passengers, “What’s with that girl? Running must be REALLY hard for her if she has to bawl just to get through it.”
It occured to me as I ran that this is just one day. I am moving through life with burdens and struggles like anyone, but I am running. I’ve got legs to carry me and a heart that’s still pumping.
It doesn’t really matter where we live, if we get the condo we’re trying to get, or if we rent for the next ten years. That doesn’t define us. Just like the man under the busstop, we’re essentially homeless in this world. But that’s not so bad when one of your own calls you beautiful.
I rounded the corner onto Fairview with a refreshed ferver. I abandoned my hostility, looked at the sky and sprinted all the way home.