Wednesday, February 8, 2012

"Every Mile a Memory..."

For the better part of seven years, this was the town I called home.

Marquette, Michigan. The Queen City. 
It was my college town. It was the town where I stayed after graduation while I figured out the next step. It was where I did almost as much, or maybe even more growing up than in the eighteen years prior to coming there. It is where I made some enemies, but made far more friends. It was where I trained for and completed my first half-marathon, firmly landing me back in to the running game.
It was where I made more memories than I can count. And I know this, because they all came crashing down on me in the two days I was there last weekend. 
I never noticed it as much when I lived there, nor when I was back for past visits, but that town is down right haunted for me. Around every corner, down every street, anywhere I go, there's a ghost of Lindsey past waiting for me. 

As I drove in to town, I thought of the countless trips made in and out--as I was coming from the West, I thought of rolling in from St. Germain, Wisconsin and Houghton, Michigan, coming back from trips to see significant others, the pangs of separation filling me with loneliness and sadness. I thought of one particular trip back from Wisconsin in the wee hours of the morning, knowing deep in a breaking heart that it would be the last time, and it was a break I would have to make even though everything in me was screaming not to. But, because of the decision made one teary, cold July morning, I have the memories of returning from Houghton and being with "the Techie", something I would not trade for anything. 
As I caught a glimpse of the bike path, I thought of the day I made the resolution to run a half marathon by the end of 2010. I remembered the old blog I started to recount my journey, and the battle to learn new habits and work this sport I remembered back in to my life. I remembered the joy as I completed runs of higher and higher mileage--6, 7, 8, 11, and that last 12 miler done on my own on a steamy August morning just hours before I would move away. And, I remembered the day I ran the inaugural Marquette Half-Marathon. 2:02:55 and a dream come true. 
As I drove out to Gwinn, I thought of all the drives I made while subbing and student teaching--gas gauge solidly in the danger zone, praying the beastly teal tank would make it back to town; of all of the times I tried to get the screaming and crying out of my system before I had to be calm and student teach (for the record, most of those efforts were in vain. I was nothing but a pure mess during that semester.) 22 miles of stories, the young teacher-candidate questioning her choice and wondering what the next steps would be either way she chose.

As I went from place to place in Marquette, a ghost appeared behind every corner. I saw myself in the pep band at a hockey game, walking along on campus, dancing at the Upfront and Company, navigating the streets in a truck you could hear coming miles away. I remembered friends with whom I've lost touch. I remembered boyfriends. I, as much as I didn't want to, remembered the one from Wisconsin, and I know that no matter how many other memories I have to replace them, that town will always hold the ghosts of those three disastrous years. 
And then I saw how things have changed--the college kids I knew then are now the adults they were trying to become, with jobs, houses, and kids. Businesses have changed. Roads have changed. Campus has changed. I have changed. 
Sunday afternoon, rolling westward on US-2, I thought hard about my life, and how far things have come just in the last 18 months. 18 months since I loaded that tank of a truck in the middle of the night and left while the rest of the town lay sleeping. I came back and ran that same race nearly 15 minutes faster. I got the courage to admit I didn't want to teach. I was given a blessing beyond my vocabulary to find the job at the running store, and have it become what it has. I, despite screaming tantrums to the contrary, have grown to love the hillside city on the far western end of the lake. 

I moved to be with that "Techie". I saw with him a future I wasn't going to find with anyone else, a future that wasn't going to be found in that Queen City, no matter how much I loved it. That future brought me to the Zenith City instead, where I began that "real life" I had been trying so hard to find.
I pulled up, passing the old teal tank with the for-sale sign, to the apartment I now call home. I had been back in Marquette to work on things for our wedding, but I was happy to be back home and with the person who is the reason this event will be happening in the first place. 
Sometimes, it's fun to go back and remember your past. But, when your present is this good, it's even better to come back to it. 

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