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The Sunrises That Matter

"I don't know where I went wrong, 
but I can write a song." -The Lumineers

It's hard to pinpoint the day I was no longer pretty. Yeah, sure, thanks for telling me I still am.
But really, I was once beautiful.
Then something I changed.
I can't pinpoint the day, and it frustrates me.
Was it the first time my room-mates made cry, or was it when I realized they were no longer worth my tears? Was it the first day I went to college with my throw-up bowl, wearing long sleeves and trying to hide the IV that was poking out of my wrist, horrified that someone might see my weakness? Was it the day, 9 months after having my 2nd child, where I realized I had no idea how to get the baby weight off? Was it after I stopped rock climbing? Was it when I started getting stress induced acne? When my insomnia first flared in my married life?

I can't remember.

I do remember other days that mattered.

I can remember the first time my brother-in-law thought I was weird, an 8 year old up at 5am calmly putting together my favorite 250 piece puzzle over and over on the tile; reminding him I shouldn't make any noise until the others were up, I didn't like TV, and I had already read all of my books.

I can remember when my Dad would play baseball with me in the garage, and how our 2 person game didn't make sense but I was so happy and I knew nothing else mattered. I later used that same plastic, orange bat to kill a black widow spider I had found and identified. I wanted to keep it. My mom told me no. I was 6.

I remember my first time rock climbing. It was 6th grade camp, and we were in the mountains. It was a man-made wall, and we each had one turn... Until it started snowing, and the class all hovered under a blue tarp moaning and taking the opportunity to get snuggle up to their crushes. I asked if I could climb again. Again. Again and again and again, my cheeks flushed with frost, snow piling on my hair. My hands were barely moving, shoved into my mouth- biting, biting, getting my fingers moving so I could climb just a couple times more. The noises of my classmates teasing, wondering what I was doing, muted by a new feeling- passion.

I remember when I first discovered running. My Dad and sister were playing tennis. We were at a resort. No, I didn't want to play. I was bored. I'd run and get the balls for them. Faster, each time I'd laugh with glee as I darted off to find the ball and run it over to them. I proudly declared that is what I would do when I grew up- I would be the runner at the tennis courts.

I remember when I was no longer a rock climber. We were in Rifle, CO, a big destination for sport climbers. None of the lines looked good. I had no projects. We were heading over to a wall that had some routes I might be potentially interested in, but I just sat down and ate snacks. I realized that I didn't want to be there. So impulsively I left- I put on my shoes, and went for a run. Further and further up the canyon. Laughing, smiling, faster, the rockier the trail became the bigger my grin. I was happy again. It wasn't until months later that I started climbing less and running more.

I remember the first sunrise that mattered. (This morning on my run I had pinpointed one, but my memory corrected me this afternoon.)

I was 14. I was on the cusp of so many things. I was lost between a girl and a teenager, about to enter into high school. I was en route to my first co-ed summer camp. I didn't know what I wanted, I just knew that I didn't fit in right with the people I knew. There was an invisible barrier; the friendships that I read about weren't like the acquaintances and friends I had in real life. Wherever I belonged, I knew it wasn't in California. It wasn't with the people I knew.

I visited my sister Stephanie in Idaho. She was out at the summer camp I was to attend, called Badger Creek. I was able to stay there for a few days before camp. I quickly fell in love with feeding and brushing the horses, wandering to the river, and being allowed to read as much and as often as I wanted to.

One morning she woke me up early, she had something to show me. We walked out past the giant tee-pees, past the outskirts of the camp. We went over and under some fences; we were trespassing. Through fields of green we trudged, my jeans now wet from morning dew, the sun still not over the horizon. "There," she pointed, to a round bale of hay that was at the top of the hill, more than 5 feet tall. She helped boost me up on it.

I wish I could paint in words the view I saw, sitting on that hay bale on the top of a hill, surrounded by lush green hills, the Tetons just out of reach. Big Idaho clouds splayed across the sky all in color, the sun rising so slowly, dancing rays through the fields and onto my face. Silence that was visible. Hay poking into my back, I didn't care! It was quiet, it was beautiful.

What was this feeling? It was peace. Acceptance. Future.

I remember my first friend after moving to Salt Lake City. I had come to a trail run, after an invite from my first run with the Salt Lake City Track Club. I was nervous. We met in Big Cottonwood Canyon and carpooled up. I curled my fingers up and sat on my hands and tried to not look awkward. These were real trail runners. How fast am I, they asked. I couldn't respond. I hadn't trail run with many others. I was slow on the roads but seemed to do better on the trails. They laughed and shook off the question, I felt a little better. They just wanted to have an idea on my pace.
Who knew a couple people in that car would become the great friends they are to me today?

Today I went for a run with friends. I had no plans, only knowing that I couldn't handle the stress of the Idaho Mountain Festival coming up. I was worried about the 100-miler training I had just started. I was emotionally exhausted from Wasatch and recent family issues. I was concerned about my friends who were disappointed in me, the friendships that were strained or fading- what had I done wrong? Where am I to improve? I worried about the friendships that were just beginning, and the friendships that I am a part of now in that are better than I had ever imagined friendships could be (better than I feel I could ever deserve)- friendships I want to protect and keep and hold.

So today we ran. The running itself wasn't anything special. Before dawn I asked for headlamps to be turned off for a bit, and enjoyed casual conversation and picking the starlight off of rocks to find my way. Up and up the rocky trail.

Then, the sunrise. Rays of light just dancing across the sky. Jagged rocky peaks.
I was reminded again, all that drama and stress didn't matter. It would be ok.
Laying in the green reservoir at the end of the run, floating on my back, eyes closed so I can't see my own ugliness- the day my beauty was lost no longer mattered. The sun beaming on my face and kissing me with smiles.

What was this feeling again? Peace. Acceptance. Future.


  1. You're just going to have to own it, and tough if you don't like to hear it, but you are beautiful, inside and out! And freakin' adorable, too! After we turned back this morning, we had a good discussion about what is "real," and I think that the good relationships that we take with us from this life are real, as real as it gets. And floating in there somewhere will be the memory of a beautiful, real sunrise (or two).


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