Tonight I wanted to go out for a quick run and try to keep my pace around 7:30 per mile. That's pretty fast for me, especially on the hills in IHP. It was already dark by the time I got out there and I wound up doing a pretty uninspired loop. I nearly achieved the average pace I was after, but I'm still not keeping my cadence up. It's coming along, coming along.
After everything. After all that, I am home.
Incarceration, and the terrible mistakes I made that led to that incarceration, was a overwhelming burden on my family and friends. A burden I will carry the knowledge and pain of for the rest of my life. Prison affords time and space, of course, but those can be cruel enemies if you're haunted and angry as many are. (Don't get me wrong, I was continually impressed by the number of guys were sorting their lives out.)
And there were lots of things I did to get through the days and be productive. I wrote, A LOT, to family and friends. I tried to write to Margaret every day. I drew her pictures and made up silly stories to try TRY to be a supportive and loving dad even though I was 400 miles away.
But mostly, what I did for my own sanity, was run. I ran the 1/3 mile loop around our exercise yard day and day after day. Through the brutal Buffalo winter (the craziness of lake-effect snow) and the long summer days that seemed to stretch way too long. I ran and I ran and I ran and I remembered that running was a meditative practice for me when I was a kid. Those days. All those days. 456 days running around that yard at Gowanda Correctional Facility, I realized all my running and biking in my 20s and 30s was not enough. On its own, great as it could be, running was unable to pound the sadness and anger out of my head. Losing that grounding cost me more than I can begin to recount and more than I want to recount here and now. Prison is miserable, of course, (though it was nothing like the misery I anticipated), but it afforded me the time and space to return to my practice. Breathe, run, reflect (repeat).
Being in Inwood, being with Margaret, being able to see my friends, visit my favorite spots, and run in one of the best parks in the world has been a real joy. I've been home now for twelve days after having been away for fifteen months. I am alive and here and in love with my family. This post, this site, this practice of running and breathing and reflecting is as much a statement of that love as anything I can do or say or show to them when we are together.