So Sam met me in the plaza and we walked to the Time Warner center and Columbus Circle. Landmarks to people from outside the city, and quite a few in - but places now I consider part of my home, my routine. As much as the Hen House I used to buy groceries at in Kansas City. Looking up from the sidewalk to see them towering as we walk I find myself a little amazed, once again, at my own life.
Sam is walking sam-pace and I'm mall-walking to keep pace. Right before we hit 55th street I notice I'm a little short of breath. I think to myself how stupid this errand is and I find my stomach churning with nerves. I'm a little short of breath after five blocks? They're going to laugh me out of the store.
We entered Time Warner and I remembered immediately why I chose this place for my errand. I had asked around at work and there were multiple places to get what I wanted, but I wanted to come here. It's filled with my favorite stuff. The first floor is all Williams-Sonoma where I browse slowly through the aisles, imagining what our home will be like someday, what meals I will fix, what special treats I will make for birthdays, anniversaries, Wednesdays. I love that everything has sets and matches. That the books are all big and filled with glossy photos. I dream of making such a book someday, filled with my creations. Of having a big kitchen in which I spend hours preparing feasts for those I love. Cooking is a symptom of home to me. I love walkign through there, imagining all the great Sunday mornings and weekday evenings still to come for us.
And then, we take the escalator upstairs - Borders greets us, large and looming. There are chairs and couches scattered about where people are reading freshly purchased books, or just enjoying the view out the park through the giant windows. I love this; that people gather to take in the beauty of the view. That they lounge about in this fancy shopping center, feet kicked up as they watch everyone else, as they count the trees and stare dreamily at the fountain.
We meander though all of them to the end of the walkway and immediately I want to run back to my books and my spatulas. To the couches and the view. This errand is making way more nervous than it should. But again, it plays directly on all the things I'm most anxious about. I remind myself as we walk in past all the fancy clothes and people that I'm here to make sure I am ending these feelings. That next time I come, I'll feel less self-conscious. Less out of place.
Less, well, less.
We make our way to the back and I stare at the giant wall of shoes. There's no one available to help us and part of me feels relieved at that. I think to myself that maybe we'll just look around and leave. Maybe tonight isn't a good time, and then I remember how much I don't want to do this twice. I wander over to a display of flip-flops and look at them until Sam reminds we why we're here.
"Maybe you should just look to see which ones you like think are pretty. Which ones you'd like the look of."
Sigh. I try to ignore the man dressed in full running regalia trying shoes on, and the two women discussing their preferences on styles of tread. I walk up to the shoes and am immediately overwhelmed. Can I pick a pair because they're orange? Green? How do I even start? Then I look at the prices and realize this is for real. I can't spend this money and not use them, give up. It's too much. Too much we don't have.
"Can I help you? You need some shoes?"
Dear lord. The part I dreaded most. Sam answers for me, and I confirm with, "I'm trying to learn to run and I need shoes."
The sales guy is awesome. He's not at all what I was prepared for. He's super laid back in jeans and a t-shirt, and he's very kind. I tell him he'd laugh if he knew how much I run now, and he immediately says, no, you're doing good! start slow - keep the pace. You're doing it right.
Which makes me possibly take my first real breath since we entered the store. I guess I half expected them to turn me away. Not take me seriously. Assume somehow I was not worth their time, not a "real" runner. But he didn't. He treated me as well, if not with more attention, then the ladies who obviously knew exactly what they were doing. Who ran. For reals. Not for minutes at a time on a treadmill.
He measured my feet and watched me as I ran down the aisle. He had me walk around and then examined the bottom of my shoes. He told me I was "stable." Which made Sam laugh a little more loudly than necessary. He then showed me six shoes to choose from to try.
He told me flat out I could pick the ones I thought were pretty.
I picked the orange ones, and green ones, and blue ones. The blue ones were called the "pegasus" which I liked the thought of. The green ones were quite pretty (I had pointed them out to Sam earlier) and the orange ones, were, well, orange.
I tried the green ones on first and he asked me about where they hit my arch and if the toe box felt okay. I looked at him like he had just spoken German. He smiled and said, it's okay. Walk around, try them out. And then he took me over to the treadmill to see how they felt when I ran. He started it out pretty slow and then said, “You are a runner! I'll pick up the pace so you can really try them out.”
I felt stupid, I felt silly. I felt for sure people could see me and tell I was doing it all wrong. But I tried anyway. And I decided the green ones weren't for me. I tried the other two on and after much hemming and hawing and much running about, one on each foot, I chose the orange ones.
The ones that were called the Nimbus. Like Harry Potter's broom.
They were the most expensive, but they felt the best. I told the sales guy I wanted to try to run a 5K in a year, maybe a half marathon someday, and he responded like it was the most normal and possible thing in the world.
I walked out, my birthday present to myself under my arm, a lot less anxious then when I came in. I can do this. I'm not so different than all those people in there. And next time I go in, I will be a runner.
It's the beginning of a new year for me. A year where I don't let the pain, or the nerves, or my own voice inside my head stop me from trying something new. And this is the first thing.
My first pair of running shoes. Real running shoes.
For next year. When I run my first 5K.
6 years ago