May 21, 2012

Keep On Moving

I walked the longest distance of my life yesterday.

In fact, at over 17 miles, it's the farthest I've ever gone without the aid of a motorized vehicle.

And today, despite my hobbling out of bed, the funniest thing happened: I wanted to keep walking.

I wasn't sure I could do it. I set out to walk the longest distance of my life yesterday, but all I really promised was that I would "try."

But when it came down to it, there was no "try," there was only "do."

At just past the 13 mile mark, nine hours after my departure, I reached the goal I'd set for myself: Griffith Observatory. I collapsed onto the soft grass under the eclipsing sun, and hugged my knees to my chest for fear of lying down and never getting back up again. I rocked myself back and forth gently, almost imperceptibly. And a few minutes later, I got back up.

I wandered around the observatory grounds, onto the terrace and throughout the building, not sitting again until I decided to take the shuttle bus back down the hill to return to my car.

After 40 minutes' worth of waiting, a traffic officer reported that the shuttle would arrive within another 20 or 25 minutes. By then, the sun was not only eclipsed but also setting, chilling my sweat-sticky skin. Coatless and dinnerless, I was freezing and starving, and couldn't wait any longer. I had to keep moving.

Enraged, I bounded down the observatory driveway to Vermont Avenue with a vengeance, passing every other pedestrian and stroller on my way. I kept thinking I'd catch a cab, or find a bus, but determination pushed me forth, my legs free in their movement. My feet weren't tired, and the heat that had plagued my sweat-soaked forehead earlier now warmed my muscles, preventing them from cramping. I was loose, elucidated, invincible. I could walk forever.

Fortunately, I didn't have to. It was only another 4.5 miles to my car from the shuttle bus stop departure point.

I marveled at my stamina, my legs taking on a life of their own despite the advancing darkness and the menacing night air. I couldn't imagine how blisters had not erupted on toe, ankle, heel. I ignored the chafing that had eluded me until that point. I never saw a bus to catch. I never saw a cab to hail. So I just kept walking.

I withdrew cash from the ATM.

I ran into an ex.

I stopped for a margarita.

And I kept walking, all the way back to my car.

I wanted to walk so badly, it felt odd to cram my legs behind the wheel of a car, to pivot foot and flex calf to depress a pedal, my two legs no longer working in tandem to move me forward, instead being propelled by some non-ambulatory force.

When I finally got home, 11 hours after I'd started, I dreaded how I would feel in the morning, anticipating a paralytic recovery period, or worse yet, insufferable pain revealing the hypoplasia of my musculature, which should have never been subjected to such a marathon. And sure enough, I didn't sleep very well, my mind riddled with bad dreams and irrational visions, my essence aching in the shape of a fetus. But when I got up and began to waddle out of the pain, the craziest thing is, I felt better.

I felt stronger. And I was starving.

Having lived for decades now with fibromyalgia, I've learned that the worse thing you can do for it is the thing you want to do the most: rest. Sore, sensitive connective tissues suffer the worst after inactivity, so instead of staying in bed which is what you wish most for, you must push through the pain and keep moving, anyway, anyhow.

I got out of bed today.

I swam on my lunch break today.

I wanted to walk some more today.

And as I get ready for bed a second night after my epic walk, I'm afraid of what will happen if I don't.

Related reading:
Keep It Moving
I May Be in One Place But My Legs Keep Movin'

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