Embracing 30: Melting Past Ice

26 Feb


We have a complicated past, the Charles River and I.

On lunchtime runs and weekend bike trips and paddle boarding and sunny sailing adventures, I love the Charles. I love the bridges and the cityscape and the Harvard buildings and the Hatch Shell and the Fourth of July fireworks. Nearly half of the past decade has been spent here. My love for running and biking blossomed here, friendships began on the running path, conversations happened that I remember verbatim.

But I also have a reverence and fear of the Charles that may be unique. I know the early mornings and late nights when the beauty of the twinkling skyscrapers is breath-taking but the murky river tells a darker tale. When the stunning imagery is almost too much to bear. When I think of those who saw this stunning backdrop with eyes too clouded to keep them from anything but their mission – jumping to end their suffering.

But I am turning 30 next week and I stand here, watching the ice break apart, and I know it is time to let it go.

I cried crossing the bridge last week – a friend stricken with cancer. Too young. It doesn’t make sense. Even where there will be triumph over disease (and there will be) there is still grief. Let it go, Liz.

I stood numbly watching the divers search for a body on New Years. A boy my age, from my beloved state. Too tired from long runs and nervous about a bike accident, I commuted on foot all of January. Twice a day passing the picture frames of his smiling face. Too young. His poor family. The grief is terrible. Let it go.

Last summer, the shriek of metal hitting skin. A motorcyclist, thrown from his bike when a teenager in a pickup truck hit him, crushed by a passing SUV. All I remember is the lone shoe and the splashes of blood. And reading the article by his father, about what a peaceful and loving college student he was and how he headed home for Father’s Day weekend to PA. “We just hung out and he made us laugh. What a pleasure to be with him” said his Dad. Then they put him on a train and later that day – this. Let it go.

And the winter before, watching the woman jump to her death. I can say no more except that I hated you then, Charles, with a coldness that seems silly towards a river. And I dreamt of you often and of her…how cold she must have been…the many hours until they found her…the many days until they identified her. Let it go.

Grief of a different sort – two years ago, my birthday. Walking to meet a guy, a guy who a few weeks ago was special and now is not, but who I still am celebrating with. I bounce between numbness and feelings of rejection and hurt and understanding that this is meant to be and contentment that life is good, but you mock me, Charles. “When do we get to bike in that?” he said when I took a particularly stunning picture of the river at daybreak. “In the river?” I giggled. “No, in that cityscape (he loves them as much as me)…together.” And now I know the answer is never. Let it go.

The ending of a 50k run. Long. Longer than a marathon. But without medals and spectators. And everything hurt and I didn’t want to run the bridge because it is long and windy and the other three guys were faster. And then one, in a whisper, because this is not the sort of thing you do around other triathlete guys who live to mock you, recited e e Cummings poetry to me. The grin is back. I do not know that in a weeks time, two nights before his brother’s wedding, he will sleep and not wake up. All I know is that sometimes I still whisper, despite how meaningless and melodramatic it is, “I carry your heart with me, I carry it in my heart” when I cross. Let it go.

And there was the time I crossed the bridge with a coworker to look at a bike. The bike was not meant for me but I thought the coworker was. I was wrong. Standing on the bridge looking at the stars, I imagined happiness. Instead I found pain and insecurity and someone saying they loved me but treating me cruelly and I still struggle with the mistakes I made and the lies I believed about myself. Let it go.

My favorite Gladiator song plays: Now we are free. (Nothing makes me as emotional as this song.)

And I let it all go.


The sting is gone. Mostly. Except in tender moments where I need it as a reminder of who I am and what I have seen and how I have lived. I cannot wish the bad away from this last decade but I can allow it to fade.

There will be more – happiness and grief, acceptance and rejection, beauty and darkness – in my 30s. I cannot carry these burdens and I no longer do. But to let it all go means letting part of myself go as well. This I cannot allow.

Break the sharp edges apart – melt the ice into clear flowing water. But let the water remain. I carry it, I carry it all with me, I carry it in my heart.


One Response to “Embracing 30: Melting Past Ice”

  1. Susanna February 26, 2013 at 10:09 pm #



    Actually, I really have no words.


    This is probably the best thing you have ever written. One of the best things I’ve ever read.

    Thank you.

    I identify, so much.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: