Six Strings of Freedom

I have a great couch.  It’s old, beaten up, and used.  I found it on the side of the road for $75.00 and immediately ran home, grabbed my husband (and our truck), and we snagged this thing.  I threw a memory foam mattress on it (folded in half, hot-dog-style) and covered the entire thing with a slip cover.

Life is good.

Except that between the fact that the two corner seats are actually recliners and the memory foam reflects back my body heat, it’s easy to sink into the couch, feel all warm and cozy, and forget that a world is about fifteen feet outside my front door.

Plus, being insecure and shy means that great adventures on the path are fun, especially when I know where I’m going because I’ve been there before.  But doing something new?  Terrifying.

I moved to this city twenty years ago and still don’t know how to get downtown.  At least, until last weekend.  I was invited to attend a colleague’s husband’s music recital.  And though I really was nervous about going downtown at night and parking in the parking deck by myself, I did it.

Oh, and my kids came with me.  So I really wasn’t all that alone.

But sitting in the foreign concert hall and clasping my hands together to restrain my enthusiasm as the musician cradled his guitar like a lover, curled his fingers around the frets, and then strummed, releasing echoes of music and history, I was enthralled.  For an hour, I perched on my seat and rode complex chords and trails of notes.  I lived in a very pure moment in which I sat between my children and just listened to a man playing music ranging from Hispanic (I think) composers from the last three?  four hundred years.

After the recital (which really was amazing), the kids and I went to a local war memorial so my son could take pictures of the city.  This might not seem like a big deal to anyone, but I don’t like driving in unfamiliar locations at night.  Thanks to my iPhone, though, I navigated the streets, parked my car in the back of the lot, and the Boy and I took pictures of the city on the other side of the hill.

The night before, the city had been illuminated, the skyscrapers being decked out with white Christmas lights.  And on that cold evening with my son, we stared over at at constellations in perfect ninety-degree lines that seemed to be sending children’s wishes straight to the North Pole, to Heaven, to the open ears of angels waiting for the whispers to sweep up through the clouds.

If I’m not certain where I’m going, I don’t want to drive there.  If I’m not certain what I’m going to be doing, I want to live on my couch.  But going to the city to hear the music recital broke that part of my spine and suddenly, I found that my range of mobility was greatly widened.  And with that new sense of confidence, I have been running for the roads.

Sure, it’s been a week, but today, I navigated my way to a writers’ conference I always wanted to attend but was too shy to go to.  And I loved it.  I loved sitting in a room filled with writers while we were led through activities that inspired thought and creativity.  Sorrowfully, I had to leave a bit early.  I had another goal to conquer.

As I drove home, though, under a perfectly open blue sky, I noticed a huge black bird.  At first, I dismissed it for a vulture.  But then I noticed its white head.

A bald eagle.

I have spent too much time sinking in to my couch.

But this summer, I started running for the hills.  And now, as the hills become covered in snow and I’m not about to drive on them (I’m not a good snow-driver), I think I’ll explore the city that has been my home for two decades.

Two decades I spent hiding.

No more hiding.

Last Monday, I gushed to my colleague about how much I loved her husband’s music.  I told her that even my son, who currently prefers hip-hop, loved the recital.  My daughter who was initially sulky eventually came around and enthusiastically appreciated the fact that I made her attend.

I asked her if the recital had been recorded.

It was.

I have asked for a copy of the recording and fully intend on downloading it to my iPhone.  Today, I ran nine miles.  I am so close to hitting the 13 mile mark for my half-marathon.  But as I train for that even, I am training for another hundred miles on the Appalachian Trail.  Moreso, I am training myself for a whole new spectrum of adventures.

And I will have a whole new soundtrack.

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