Hitting the Wall

Dearest Rachel –

Long-distance runners talk about the concept of ‘hitting the wall,’ both in practice and in competition. There is apparently a point at which your body basically tells you, “That’s as far as I can go, kiddo. I’m tired, I’m sore, I’m gonna give up, and I recommend you do the same, because I ain’t supporting you if you try to go any further.” The trick is to ignore your body for just that little while longer – if nothing else, you’re probably not in a place where you can just quit and walk away in any event, unless you’re on some actual track, running in circles – or convince it to move forward a little bit more, and another little bit more, until you catch what they refer to as their “second wind,” allowing both of you to concede that, yeah, we can keep going now. In optimal cases, you might even achieve the “runner’s high,” where you’re so amped on your own adrenaline that you can not only finish the race, but be perfectly comfortable jogging home from the finish line once you reach it.

To be honest, I’ve never experienced any of this personally, even in my attempts to train for the marathon. Some would say I listened to my body, and took its complaints to heart too soon, and that may be so. I certainly thought I knew better than to push myself beyond what it seemed to be capable of, or willing to do. From the description, though, the experience of hitting the wall is much more intense than the minor aches and pains that caused me to decide to back down.

By contrast, I don’t know if Erin has ever experienced it either, if only because when she describes her efforts to run, the obstacles she tends to face have to do more with scheduling and motivation. Whatever “wall” she faces seems to have to do with getting started; once she’s on her feet, it seems she can just go and go and go. She’s a natural at the sport, even though she claims to prefer bicycling far and away over running when it comes to getting from point A to point B.

Of course, were you to hear the phrase, you thoughts might turn themselves to that one episode of Golden Girls where Sofia attempts a marathon (actually, I guess it was a walkathon, but that’s neither here nor there). When she mentions having ‘hit a wall,’ her daughter Dorothy clucks sympathetically, “Ah, Mom… you ran out of steam,” to which Sofia responds that no, they’d just put up a new Wendy’s on Collins Street, and she ran into the wall. It’s one of those metaphorical/literal turns of phrase that will get a few yucks in a pinch, and that’s all that show (or, really, any sitcom) ever strives for; after all, they’ve got a laugh track to inform the audience when something is funny. Sorry, honey, I never got into that show (or any other sitcom, for that matter) like you did.

So what does any of this have to do with me? Well, not that much… aside from the transition from complete metaphor to partial literality.

You see, while I try to set it aside for a time – particularly after the last month or so, when it was busy for a time between dealing with Ruby and E.C. – there will often be activity on the dating app, usually when I least expect it (not to mention when I’m least looking for it – this week and weekend have not been optimal times to stop and chat with complete strangers online, let alone making arrangements to get together at some point). This means I’m still meeting people from time to time; sometimes without necessarily trying.

Enter Yvonne (not her real name, of course).

As with so many others, she started off by acknowledging that neither of us was on the app at the same time as the other (thus creating some serious lag between conversational gambits), and suggested we take our conversation to somewhere else. After a little back-and-forth on Google Chat, she tried to get me to install an app for Google Hangouts, so she could call me up. When I told her I couldn’t find it in the App Store, she went over to it and confirmed my assertion, at which point she suggested switching over to Skype. I gave her a link, and my phone promptly rang.

Unlike Ruby or E.C., she has no discernible accent (aside from Received American, I suppose), and is cheerful, bubbly and articulate. I confess that I feel comfortable talking to her, as we relate our own work life to each other (which is significant, as it has a bearing on our schedule, and when we can speak with each other next). She tells me that she is a travel nurse, going around the country as she is contracted to; this is supposedly an explanation as to why, when I first saw her profile, she was listed as being in Winfield (just west of Wheaton), but a day later, it displayed Charlotte as her location. She has confirmed that she’s in Charlotte at the moment, and while I’m not sure that she’s staying with them, she will be celebrating Easter tomorrow (including attending church) with friends in the area.

Everything seems well and good, including an extended conversation as I was driving home from the Good Friday services last night, not to mention for another twenty or thirty minutes thereafter, as I was settling in for the evening. She talked about training the next generation of nurses, and how they need to learn how to think outside the box, while I pointed out how that’s not a skill learned in school. If they want to succeed, they’ll figure it out eventually. Of course, since she’s an hour ahead of me, and she works in the morning, we cut things short so that she could get some rest. And here’s where things got strange.

At about 10 last night (11 her time), I noticed a message on my phone from her, telling me she couldn’t sleep, and asking if I was up. When I responded in the affirmative (after all, who actually says ‘no, I’m asleep’ unironically?), she asked me to tell her more about myself. Now, what I read was “make me like you more and want to establish something long lasting with you.” It wasn’t until this morning that I read it again and realized it said “makes” and referred to a previous text bubble expressing admiration that she sees me as being ‘close to God,’ presumably because I talked a lot about my involvement with this weekend’s services. But last night, I found myself momentarily hemming and hawing about how to ‘sell’ myself to her (despite the fact that she seemed appreciative enough as it was, and was just trying to find out more about me).

That’s when she apparently decided to go first, and this is the ‘wall’ I’ve been speaking of. I’m starting to wonder if it’s just a female trait when it comes to texting, because I found myself confronting a wall of text describing herself. It’s the sort of thing you’d think would belong in her profile – if it hadn’t been for the face that she’d taken hers down shortly after I spotted it with the new location in Charlotte. Maybe E.C. was telling the truth about getting inundated with potential suitors, and Yvonne here was taking herself off the market likewise before the trial period ended. I’d like to think so. In any event, she doesn’t sound like a scammer.

But three large bubbles of text are still rather intimidating to deal with. The first one was basically a self description that again, felt like a personals ad. The second described abilities and hobbies – I’m still mildly amused at her claim that she makes the best pancakes in the world. Finally, she wrapped up with a long description of what the man of her dreams would be like, all done in the second person.

I’m tempted to think that these were prepared in advance; my responses, however, not so much. I did try to describe myself in a similar manner, but this is like the toughest essay question exam I’ve had to deal with. I must confess, I preferred the conversational style of our earlier texts (to say nothing of the phone calls, where we both seemed to feel comfortable just talking with each other) to writing ad copy for myself as we both approached our separate midnights. After my attempt at describing who I might be looking for (because I really don’t know – I don’t think I should try to find a carbon copy of you), there was silence on her end. Hopefully, I had simply lulled her to sleep with my words. I suspect, though, that I’m likely to hear from her once she’s off work today, so I’ll ask about it then.

Until then, honey, wish me luck. I think I’m going to need it.

Published by randy@letters-to-rachel.memorial

I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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