In Darkness

A thick smell of humidity and musk rested in the air. It rested heavy causing breathing to be a lot more difficult as the air slowly entered into my lungs and rested there as well. Drops of rain being whipped around by the wind hitting the windows, trickling down casting shadows on my body. There were blotches of light that hit the floor but I remained hidden in the shadows, in the darkest part of the room. I held my legs as tight as I could, my hair falling over my face stuck to the tears that drowned my skin. Makeup smeared around my eyes trailing down my face, running down my neck soaking the collar of my shirt. I felt my eyes and lips swelling, my body subtly trembling. I had physically been there but my mind had been sucked into a black hole eternally disconnected from the world. I somehow managed to come back but had asked for too much again. My hands ran up my face stretching my skin as they grasped my scalp pulling my hair as hard as I could to move the focus of pain in another direction. Strands of hair twisted in between my fingers as my head hit the wall over and over again. Energy traveled inside of me through my veins causing my muscles to contract and release from frustration. Rage seeped through my skin and viciously attacked my mind. I pulled and pulled and my fingers dug into my palms painting my fingertips red. The smell of metal rose from my hands and sat as heavy as the musk and rain. I rested my head back as a pool of tears formed at the base of my eyes impairing my vision. Lightening struck illuminating my face that was flushed and blotched, bruised and smeared. There had been no conversation, no meeting, no communication. It was the silence that brought me there. Your silence rang in my ears, destroyed my mind, and threw me back in the grave where I died once again.

{'Hello Darkness, My Old Friend' by MadamePsychosis}

The 6-Hour, 26.2 Mile Pilgrimage

When you hear 26.2 miles you think 'oh that's a car ride away,' which, in fact, it is. But when you attempt to run it, as in a marathon, it turns into a complete mental test, a 6-hour destination. It's a chance to get to know a city we so easily avoid. 5 boroughs with 6 hours of intimate getting-to-know each other. Bridges we normally drive through become pedestrian pathways. People we normally ignore become our support system. We all become interconnected for the race of our lives. Humanity embraces what it means to be humanly human. And we embrace what it truly means to be alive.

This was speed dating at its finest. I was willing to get to know as many people as I could and possibly motivate them and change their lives. With only 6-hours I was going to conquer the NYC streets one high five at a time. I would stop at the top of bridges and breathe in the skyline of a city I had just been reacquainted with.

When I tell you I was completely terrified, that is just an understatement. I had failed in my running duties and not taking training too seriously. I thought, ‘hey if a woman can give birth and not prepare for that then I can definitely run a marathon.’ This, of course, coming from a girl who has yet to get pregnant. But we always tend to underestimate the powers of the human mind and body and I would be completely in touch with myself in this very moment in time to attain the unattainable for some. 

I went into this with full intentions of blocking the world out. I didn't want to hear anything but the sound of my headphones. But then I heard the roaring of the crowd, which was better than any song I could play. The world was my stage and I was completely consumed. Every mile becomes a milestone as I develop into a newer better version of me. The city becomes a visual influence as I strive to be as tall as the buildings I stand next to.

I would be lying if I told you I did not think about giving up. More than halfway done yet 6.2 seems farther than 26.2. My knee begins to throb as I wonder how good it must feel to be standing still, sitting down, sleeping. I think back to the beginning of the race, a handicapped man with prosthetic legs being guided by two other men as he hunches over to catch his breath. Or the woman with a shirt that said 'Blind Runner' being led by the voice of the crowd all the way to the finish. And how about the man who juggled his way through and the woman who ran barefoot. Giving up was no longer an option but an obstacle. 

His name was Nano. Born in New York but currently lives in Indonesia. 
Hey! How are you doing?
Image captured while crossing the finish line.
Honestly, TERRIBLE! I just want to finish this race, eat my cinnamon raisin bagel, possibly have a beer or 10 and go to sleep!!!

His name was Barry. Born and raised in NYC.
It was the crowd on 1st Avenue right?
I had started the race with him but managed to lose him on the way. Darting down 1st from the excitement and energy of the crowd. He knew me well, but there he was next to me.

My two angels gave me wings, lifted me and without saying much dragged me to that finish line. Lamp post to lamp post, street light to street light, walk D to E, run F to the Finish.

I don't remember my feelings at that exact moment. I'm pretty sure I thought about stuffing my face. I couldn't even manage to walk to the people giving out the medals as I extended my arms for them to come to me, and with a simple gesture a volunteer runs over and gives me a hug,
I left Central Park with new relationships and intimate memories of the city. A journey not even a car could cover nor a bike or a plane. A pilgrimage where thousands headed towards sacred land. A reflection of life itself.

The Colors of a Rainbow

The giant bird had landed safely leaving me an emotional wreck. I have yet to touch the land but being on it breaks down my walls and floods my face with tears. Part of the same planet, thousands of miles away from familiar land. A mutual ocean the only body we share. I don’t remember what my ‘home’ is like because I’ve found a new place to stay. Disconnected yet connected to another world. The air feels heavier here, the people a little darker, my heart a little lighter. I was ready to take it in, pollution and all. It was much nosier, the streets more crowded with colorful women, men, children, cows, elephants. A community, a village, a family. Vibrant colors radiating, a reflection of their souls. Smiles, nothing but smiles. The simplicity of a smile the extension of their affection. My arrival had no impact as they went about their lives but my presence did not go unnoticed. Eyes locked for a second and transformed years of my life.

Two boys sitting on the side of the road blowing kisses my way. Eye Contact. They flutter towards me—butterflies and a smile. I’ve smiled a million times in my lifetime but this smile came from the depths of my stomach, the pit of my heart, my entire being. With a blow of a kiss love is spread and smiles are found. Beggars. Left, right, front, back—Beggars. Food their greatest luxury. Communication: hand to mouth—hunger. I put my head down. No Eye Contact. Shameful that I can’t help them all. Humbled. I can’t even help myself back at ‘home’ but they don’t know that. 

Mosques, temples, churches reside side by side on a one block span. Acceptance. God. Unity. A world so divided but they manage to coexist. Swastikas a symbol of well-being. A symbol we've learned to turn our heads from. 

Touch. Touch as much as you can. As long as you can feel you’ll remember. Marble, dirt, water. People laying on the streets, on the sidewalks, on staircases. Heat. Boiling hot dry heat. Sucks the life out of you. Puts you to sleep. But arms remain extended out to a world that cannot save them. Rivers, a communal place to cleanse—mind, body, soul. Forgiveness. 

Friendship. I have made friends here that will forever be in my heart—Raj. A man said, “We don’t believe in war we believe in unity.” And I thought how silly since I come from a world that is in war and remains divided. And he continues to say, “Countries are all alike and are made up of people just like us—children, mothers, fathers.” I couldn’t believe how much sense he made in a casual conversation. Sense the world lacks but could use to change it forever. Sense that is taking us years and years to figure out. Sense I just learned in a casual conversation. I gave him a tip. He placed it on his head then raised it towards the sky. It must be a universal gesture because I heard his ‘Thank You’ loud and clear. Maybe not to me but to some greater power. A meal he can bring home to his family. 

Family. My family is scarce back at ‘home’. Hi Mom, Bye Mom. That is my family and that is the time I have with my family. Eat, sleep, work, repeat. Life for us, it’s just there. For them, it’s everywhere. Mausoleum. The Dead reside 240ft above ground. A mausoleum of honor and love. A mausoleum of unity forever after. Their spirits celebrated with riches. I stand there in awe. A different world in the middle of their reality. Outside these walls, Beggars. Reality. 

Wedding. A population of billions, crowds of cars in between lines. In the middle of it all a celebration. Love always prevails. Music, fireworks, car horns, invitation. I find myself celebrating with the groom while he heads towards the rest of his life. I don’t know his name, age, wife but we’re celebrating together. Cars become more impatient. Horns overpowered by laughter. 

Appreciation of the world. Water, liquid gold—luxury. Work, long and hard—luxury. Family, hungry but many—luxury. Life is luxury. But there is something beautiful about suffering. Something we cure with a pill back at ‘home’. And I can’t help but think, “How can they live like this?” But they have for thousands of years and many more to come. “How can they live like this?” Valuing simplicity over complexity. Community over privacy. The only people to truly find peace and are able to live united. To accept others. To accept life. To promote love. 

Red. Orange. Yellow. Green. Blue. Indigo. Violet. When standing alone they are nothing but solid colors. Put together they make a rainbow.

RedOrangeYellowGreenBlueIndigoViolet put together make India.

As I ventured back home I found myself struggling to put this experience into words. My heart feels heavy as I think about how their lives continue to move on as I remain frozen in a past that dances around me and is forever etched into my heart.