Four miles and counting. I don’t mean to go quite this far but the lake has flooded the trail: I round a bend and what!—there’s a sudden and startling expanse of murky water, two ducks paddling on its surface. I double back and go the long way around, along a chain link fence, jumping over exposed tree roots, zigzagging past puddles, then in front of a line of storefront windows where I peer surreptitiously to the left to see my reflection flashing by. Running girl, taking confident strides in skintight black Nike pants. I hardly recognize her.

I’m used to gasping, these long steady breaths are new to me. I’m used to stopping, not pushing through.

We were sitting in a darkened movie theater when someone came stumbling down the aisle and collapsed in a chair at the end of our row with a barely controlled crash. An instant later I could smell it: a wave so strong I almost expected to see a visible swirling in the air. I wondered how often I smelled like that, thinking I was being so secretive. You can hide it from some people, I guess. Others know it like a song they could sing in their sleep. It’s exhaled, it surrounds you, it seeps from your pores. I spent years thinking it made brighter, sharper, funnier moments, when all along it was a fog. It clung to me and I hid inside of it. It coated every inch of me inside and out.

Music is thudding in my ears and my feet are hitting the pavement over and over. My nose runs, my fingers are cold, my legs burn, my eyes prick back tears in the chilly air, the world moves past me as I move through it and I can feel it all.

My children’s voices are so loud. They barrage me with requests and complaints and kisses. I make snacks, wipe noses, run baths, put away toys, provide midnight comfort. Oh, it is a joy and it is a grind. I run my palm over their soft heads, I try and take deep breaths. I’m laid bare. There is no stopping. There is no cushion, no fog to hide inside.

I come to a hill and lean into it, telling myself to go harder. Up, up, up, my chest burning. I run into the feeling of wanting to quit and pass it by, leave it in the dirt behind me. I push through. I speed up, because I’m heading back home.


44 Responses to “Living”

  1. Claire on November 9th, 2009 1:44 pm

    I loved this! And all you runners an your stories make me so excited to get back to it once I have this baby. Only 5 months to go.

  2. Amanda Brown on November 9th, 2009 1:45 pm

    This is awesome.

  3. Kari on November 9th, 2009 1:57 pm

    Really exceptional writing. Wow.

  4. kerilyn on November 9th, 2009 2:00 pm

    Beautifully written and inspiring. I’m going to run my hands over my kids’ heads now. Thank you.

  5. Eric's Mommy on November 9th, 2009 2:00 pm

    Beautiful. This is why I love your blog so much.

  6. Serenity Now on November 9th, 2009 2:03 pm

    You are seriously making me want to go running…and I hate running – so that’s saying something.

  7. jessica on November 9th, 2009 2:04 pm

    that’s totally how I feel when I run. (well maybe not the part about the fog-lifting, but eh – actually maybe. just a diffrent type of fog) who IS this woman – this RUNNER. how did I become her, and WHY DID I WAIT SO LONG?

    excellent post, Linda.

  8. Ginny on November 9th, 2009 2:05 pm

    Whoa. That was just really, really great.

  9. Barb on November 9th, 2009 2:06 pm

    Very nice…I just started running after being off while building a house…treadmill running isn’t as descriptive, but it will get me to the starting line soon :) Thanks for the inspiration!

  10. Jennifer Lynn on November 9th, 2009 2:07 pm

    This was beautifully written….even the runny nose bit:)

  11. beach on November 9th, 2009 2:21 pm


  12. Bachelor Girl on November 9th, 2009 2:25 pm

    Linda, I sent this to two of my friends who are recovering alcoholics to further reinforce for them how sweet a sober life can be.

    Thank you.

  13. Junni on November 9th, 2009 2:31 pm

    Napisz książkę
    Bir kitap
    책 쓰기
    Schreiben Sie ein Buch
    escriba un libro
    לכתוב ספר
    (write a book)

  14. penne on November 9th, 2009 2:40 pm

    Your words are lovely on my screen, but they so deserve paper.

  15. Sarah on November 9th, 2009 2:41 pm

    Inspiring. I read this after doing a workout that I wasn’t all that exited to do, but did anyway. You made me extra glad that I did. You have really accomplished a lot. Very nice.

  16. Erin @ Fierce Beagle on November 9th, 2009 2:42 pm

    So compelling. Cheers to your recovery and your new-found athleticism.

  17. Jen B. on November 9th, 2009 2:43 pm

    Beautifully written. You’ve come a long way–never forget it!

  18. Lisa on November 9th, 2009 2:49 pm

    I am going to echo penne…I want to hold your book in my hands so I can read it, feel it, hold it against my chest and whisper, “yes, that’s it EXACTLY”.

    I love your writing, Linda. It’s real and poetic at the same time.

  19. Ris on November 9th, 2009 2:50 pm

    Love this. You say it so well.

  20. SJ on November 9th, 2009 3:06 pm

    So inspiring. On so many levels.

    Thank you.

  21. Kate on November 9th, 2009 3:14 pm

    Do you think you could put your posts on tape? Kinda like a book on tape? So that I can listen to them while I work out??

    K, thx, that’d be great. :)

  22. Shanna on November 9th, 2009 3:23 pm

    Just inspirational…

  23. Lisa Rae @ smacksy on November 9th, 2009 3:30 pm

    Kicking ass on a number of different levels here. Bravo.

  24. Niki on November 9th, 2009 4:02 pm


  25. Kirsten on November 9th, 2009 4:36 pm

    I loved this post. Thanks.

  26. agb on November 9th, 2009 4:59 pm

    Adding this to my “favorite Linda posts” folder. Seriously, one of your top ten best. Thanks, as always, for sharing your life with us.

  27. Lesley on November 9th, 2009 5:23 pm

    You’ve come a long way, baby.

    That said, you were a kick-ass, lovely and talented person in the period you were drinking; but since you left drink in the dirt you have emerged an Olympian Linda, the Linda living up to her full potential.

    Not many people do that, including those who don’t have a drinking problem.

    Couldn’t be prouder of you and more inspired.

  28. Snarke on November 9th, 2009 5:36 pm

    What a great post! I’m very proud of you! :)

  29. Belle on November 9th, 2009 5:47 pm

    You surely give hope to so many people.

    Wonderfully written, Linda, and I agree with ‘penne’.

  30. Victoria on November 9th, 2009 7:09 pm

    You are amazing.

  31. Debbie on November 9th, 2009 7:26 pm

    Gorgeous post…”I’m laid bare.” Just those three words alone were so evocative…I felt a twinge, an ache in my heart reading that. Not in any bad way, in the way that anything that truly moves you will make you feel. Linda, you really are awesome.

  32. Melanie on November 9th, 2009 8:49 pm

    Before I clicked on your blog in Google Reader, I thought, “I’d have to say Linda’s is the blog I always want to read the most.”

    Clicking on this entry just reinforced why, yet again.

  33. Mama Ritchie on November 9th, 2009 9:47 pm

    This made me cry. I’m so happy you’re happy, Linda.

  34. Marie Green on November 9th, 2009 10:09 pm

    Wonderful. Beautiful. Inspiring. And so true!

  35. mrsgryphon on November 10th, 2009 12:36 am

    All of the pieces you’ve written and I’ve read, this is definitely one of my favourites. So beautiful, strong and sweet.

    Another echo for Penne… your words deserve a spot on America’s (and Canada’s!) bookshelves.

  36. Elizabeth on November 10th, 2009 6:53 am

    I’ve been reading your blog for quite a while now and rarely comment, but want you to know that I think you’re truly inspiring. So much of what you write resonates with my own life, and your courage and candor have encouraged me to look at things in my life in a different way. I too am a working mom with two young kids, and it’s incredibly hard to stay “centered”. I am also a runner and have gotten to the point where the “high” I get from running is far more satisfying than that glass of wine I have for the same purpose. Anyway, thanks for sharing your stories- they are enormously helpful to someone who often feels in the same shoes!

  37. Claudia on November 10th, 2009 7:23 am

    You are awesome.

  38. Nell on November 10th, 2009 7:57 am

    You are an inspiration! The writing left me breathless this morning! Thanks!

  39. Amy on November 10th, 2009 9:52 am

    You kick ass.

  40. Rachel on November 10th, 2009 10:49 am

    I have lost count of how many times I’ve sat in front of my computer screen, blown away by the sheer spot-on perfection of something you have written. This is amazing. Thank you for sharing it.

  41. Missy on November 10th, 2009 10:54 am

    Lovely. You inspire me in so many ways. Keep going!

  42. Robin on November 13th, 2009 9:51 am


  43. Carrie on December 8th, 2009 3:42 pm

    love this.

  44. Никита on March 9th, 2010 10:52 am

    Ну конечно, я с подобным тоже сталкивался :)

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