After a particular stressful evening at the student newspaper in college, I needed some air. So, I decided to do something that always clears my head: go for a run. Not in the mood to go to our 24-hour gym or trot around the track, I decided to just run through town until I couldn’t go anymore.
I was 20 years old and silly – I knew better then to run alone when it was dark outside, and it was nearly midnight. But I went anyway, filled with frustration and stress, wanting nothing more than to feel the wind blowing through my hair and have the cool evening cool my mind. I started at my apartment on the main strip in town, hustled past the Wednesday-night bar-goers, boozy and insisting I join them in my sweats and tee for a $2 PBR. I smiled, refrained and turned up Rihanna to tune them out. Two miles later when I reached our stadium for the second time, I decided to push myself a little further and run up a massive hill (North Carolina is good for those), past the Chancellor’s House, into an abandoned parking lot.
Again, not the smartest move in the world.
Making my final lap around the lot, I noticed a sneaky path that led to a hidden trail behind the trees. I glanced at my phone – almost 1 a.m. and I had class at 10 – did I really want to venture some more? My legs hurt, so did my body, and though I was less upset than a few hours ago, the running wasn’t totally curing me. Was I a complete idiot to go into a dark forest with only a few streetlamps strung along here-and-there? I sure was, but I did it despite the fact. I moved slowly and cautiously, without a soundtrack to serenade my adventure except for the Autumn leaves crunching under my feet. I looked around at my surroundings, braced myself for the billowing wind that whispers its way around the mountaintop my school was nestled on.
And there it was. My spot.
We all have them – a place somewhere in the middle of nothing or the middle of everything, wherever you find that’s right for you, where you can stop and feel at ease. Where you in your own words, in your own way, can think and breathe, relax and let go. Where, if you’re anything like me, can chat with God.
I do pray, mostly when I’m scared or nervous, and also when I’m really thankful. Always when I find a penny. But while in college – I used to talk to God a lot more. I’d have full-blown conversations with him, complete with yelling and crying, asking and pleading. Always in that same spot after a run or when it was really cold, I’d drive and go out for just a bit. This ledge overlooked the campus and I loved how the lights twinkled in the night, reminding me of New York, reminding me of where I wanted to be.
I sometimes sat on a large rock, but mostly I paced and chatted, watched the minimal cars go by and hoped no one would come and interrupt me. If they did, I had mase, just in case. I don’t know if God talks back. The only true way I feel like I get answers is when I find a penny when I’m feeling lost or when something so perfectly designed for me, happens, and I can’t accredit it to anything other than divinity.
I don’t have a spot in New York. I can’t seem to find a place where it’s quiet and comforting, where I feel safe enough to say all of those things out loud to the sky that I could never say to someone’s face or in a crowded space. I hadn’t even realized I didn’t have a spot until Mr. Possibility and I went away for the weekend a few weeks ago, and there, at a house by the water, with the sun cascading down, I felt the urge to talk to God.
Mr. Possibility was inside napping and I was alone with only the sounds of nature around me and the feeling of my toes tickling the top of the surprisingly-cool July lake. I hadn’t talked to God out loud in years, even when I went home to North Carolina for visits, so I wasn’t sure how to start. I glanced around me to make sure no one else was around to hear me, the crazy, 20-something who was jabbering away into the distance to something that didn’t meet the eye.
But once I started, it felt good. It poured out. Years and years of things I’ve needed to say, things I needed to admit to myself and to the universe, though both of us already knew. I talked so much my throat got dry. I cried so hard, I had to breathe out of my mouth. I was there for so long that the porch light came on and I decided it was time to head inside. And when I reached the steps, my eyes puffy with a big, wide smile on my face, Mr. Possibility asked what happened and I simply said, “Just had a nice chat with God. Everything is going to be okay.”
The rest of the weekend, I continued to chat down by the lake at night when no one was around, and when I left, he would say, “Have fun, tell God I say ‘hello!'” and off I’d go. By the time I returned to New York, I felt fresher and energized, ready to unfold yet another chapter in the many chronicles of my twenties.
I still need that spot though. I still need a place to unwind and feel free to spew. So for now, my chats with God are limited to, “Please guide me to a place where we can talk more. Where I can feel closer to the universe, where I can feel closer to myself, where I can feel closer to you.”
Daily Gratitude: I’m thankful for Borders Free Wi-Fi today, where if I stand in the right corner, legs crossed, holding my laptop, I can finally get a signal.