This week has been chilly in a way that feels like winter. It is certainly not as cold as other parts of the country I’ve lived in–I think the lowest we’ve reached this week as been the mid-40s. But, don’t that fool you. The wet ocean air is colder than you would think. It gets deep down in a body and can be hard to shake off.
I opened up this week hoping to continue to get back in track with running. On Sunday, low tide (which is the best time to run on the beach) was lining up about with sunset. It was windy and beginning to rain, but a restless desire to get out and do something would not let go. I put on my Cubs hoodie and a toboggan and told Allyson I was going out for a run. I had noticed the wind when I was out earlier walking the dog, but did not realize how strong it would be on the beach.
The wind on the beach was probably 40-50 miles per hour. Running north, I had the wind at my back, which made for easy running. It was like that feeling you have running down a hill with a serious grade. Most of the momentum is caused by some force other than the body. You are moving with that force, and your greatest concern is concentrating on keeping your feet landing the way they should. And began to feel cold on my backside and realized the entire back half of my clothes were totally soaked where the rain had been steadily blasted at me from behind.
Then, the time came for me to turn around and head home, into the wind. The moment I faced the wind, my hood filled up with air, inflated the entire sweatshirt. I had to drop my head and shoulders to the point where I could not see in front of me. I found myself zig-zagging because of the wind and my lack of vision. I would look up to catch myself running straight towards the ocean or in the opposite direction running towards the treeline. I found it too difficult to continuously face south, so I would turn around and walk backwards into the wind for a while. It took 2 or 3 times as long as it would normally take me to make that trip on a regular day.
I was the only person out on the beach as the night changed shades from gray to midnight blue to full on black. I could see into the windows of beach houses where it was dry and warm, and looked around me at this inhospitable wind and rain, just steps from the roaring ocean. It was not comfortable, but I felt wild and free. I was making my way back home, enduring the howling wind that would not let up, pushing against me. My calves would be sore for days afterwards. It felt like I had run for the first time with them. In some ways, I had done something brand new.
I watched the movie Creed this week, the seventh movie in the Rocky series if my math is correct. Here’s my letterboxd review. It is a movie that creates a circle in the franchise and doubles back to the original Rocky telling the story of Apollo Creed’s son. I really enjoyed it, and it made me want to train. Boxing movies and, I guess, fighting movies in general have this effect on me. They stir up this primeval urge to fight that I feel like is ingrained in me. There’s no need to be too concerned with me–I’m not going to go getting into fights or even sparring with anyone. I think all of us at least have something that preps us emotionally to fight it it comes to it, though.
I’ve found for the person I am and the person I want to be that my urge to fight is something much more metaphorical that a physical boxing match. I find myself fighting with myself far more than any other adversary. I want to fight for integrity, for something unique, for decency to everyone. I want to be a moral conscience. I think most of the time, at least in the world I run in, that can be done without violence. Still, there’s something physical inside me that feels this great release from the practice of throwing punches at a punching bag, of feeling my body do something powerful. I doubt I will ever need to be in some sort of physical altercation, and my beliefs tell me that only a few situations warrant a violent response. But, channeling my body in a training regiment makes my mind hungrier to engage in those metaphorical fights with myself, and sometimes I can be a strong howling wind.
On Saturday, Allyson, Hope, and I went to several local holiday marts and bazaars in Tillamook, continuing our Christmas shopping and checking out the beautiful work done by local farmers, craftsmen, and artists. We turned the car north on 101 towards Seaside passing by the Nehalem Bay, Neahkhanie Mountain, and Haystack Rock. At the Cannon Beach Chocolate shop I sipped Mayan hot chocolate, while Allyson had salted carmels, and Hope slurped a malted milkshake next to their gas logs as French Christmas music played. In Seaside we watched a movie, then went to Broadway where the promenade was lit up for Christmas and warm light came from each shop.
We ate at Tora Sushi, looking out the large windows at Christmas shoppers and weekend visitors. I looked at these two important people in my life I had spent such a pleasant day with. We were surrounded by warm lights, lanterns on strings, a tall ceiling, with tall windows in this building that likely stood since Seaside’s heyday in the 1920s. After a rather tumultuous year for all of us, what a comfort to share days and moments like this. What else is in store for us in our years here on the Oregon Coast? What other wonderful things will we see, what great battles will we fight together? A guess would just be interesting conversation material, but I do know that I’m so glad to be sharing this chapter with them, among so many others.
There in that old building eating sushi, looking lovingly at my wife, laughing with Hope, I felt such a comfort looking out that window from such a warm setting. The moment, like several others that day, slowed down. My heart beat slowed, my breath deepened, and my senses opened up where I heard and saw with stronger ears and eyes. It was something I wanted to cherish, something I wanted to relive, something I wanted to repeat and make new. Something I would go back out into the pouring rain and howling wind to stay strong for. Something that, while out, I may have to trudge and fight and scratch and claw to get through. But, along that way, maybe I would find more people to bring back into the warmth. Maybe I’d find some version of myself, huddled and shivering. Maybe after a little scuffle, I would bring him too.