a blurry figure leans against the walls of a stone tunnel

when you finally stop running


I’m beginning to think that denial is stronger than faith—at least, in me.

I never thought of myself as a runner, feet pounding the pavement or carpeted track of my university gym, rolling inward as I lifted and struck again. I hated the sound of my footfalls, no music loud enough to mask my breathing. This was before my legs got bad and running became impossible—or so I thought.

The fact is I’ve been running from the truth of myself for more than a decade. By truth, I mean there is evidence of my path in the pages of journals I’ve kept since I was six, mentions of attraction and fears and wants buried between reviews of books and half-finished poems and obsessive (performative) notes about boys.

The truth that I am a lesbian. A lesbian who married a wonderful man who is her best friend and the only person she thought she’d spend her life with.

Coming out as gay when you’re 31 years old and married to a man is its own unique chaos. Fear at how friends and family will respond to you. Weekly therapy to try to understand why it took so long to stop running, why you stopped now. Moving into an apartment with one of your two cats (he kept the other). Exploring the hellscape that is online dating when you’re queer and new and not sure what you can offer another person when you’ve already failed the best friend you’ve ever had. Filing for divorce in the middle of a pandemic.

The reality of my life has completely unraveled in the last three months. No more beautiful rental home. No more stability. It’s all panicked timelines and deadlines and somehow, a full-time job waiting for me every Monday morning.

This is the story for so many of us. I (almost) can’t believe I’ve been running alongside all these women for so long and never noticed, each of us fighting against the force the pulls us off the track until we can’t anymore. Until we have to say it—quietly, at first, and only to ourselves, then again in desperate admissions to our loved ones.

Sometimes it feels like I was running to keep my fragile world spinning, and once I stopped to look back at what I was running from, I realized it had already shattered, splinters of glass lodged in the soles of my feet. I wonder how long it will take to excise the shards from my skin, for the scars to heal.

I have hope for congruity, now; for peace, finally. I have hope to find it here and share it with you, so maybe there won’t be another me that follows along that broken, well-worn path.

a study in the things i need



i’m not sure what compelled me to seek out my copy of emily dickinson’s poetry, but i couldn’t leave for work until i had it in my hands.

the front flap was tucked into the pages. i pulled it back, trying to set it right, when i noticed the signature hidden on the inside cover–my grandmother’s name in beautiful, distinctive flourish.

i don’t know how long i stood in the kitchen, fluorescent light casting blueish shadows on the floor. i don’t know how long it took the tears to form, to fall.

eighteen months ago

april in texas is a kind of first summer, wet and hot and relentless.

my mother called me on a sunday. she said my grandmother had fallen in her home and had been taken to a major hospital in a nearby city.

forty-five minutes later, i was navigating the maze of bright-light hallways and shades of antiseptic melancholy. underneath the hum of activity was the ever-present beeping of machines.

i found my way to her room. my grandfather offered me the only chair.

she seemed far away, numbed by medication and shock, but it wouldn’t last. the eight broken ribs would make themselves painfully known, throughout her body and ours.

within a few days, our extended family–my mother and her siblings and all but a handful of the grandkids–had taken over the wing. we claimed the waiting room, blankets and snacks and electronics strewn around us. we talked late into the night. we shared stories and laughed and cried when we accepted what was happening.

six months ago

how did i hear about it? an article? an ad? the trailer, maybe, on a social feed?

a film called wild nights with emily proposed a new interpretation of the emily dickinson’s letters and works–that she was in love with her brother’s wife, sue, and not at all the fearful, unrequited lover of unavailable men we’ve come to believe she was.

after a particularly challenging week of work–and while my mother lay in the same hospital her mother had died in, recovering from surgery to remove a 13cm tumor from her abdomen–i sat in a dark theater and watched molly shannon kiss susan ziegler as a narrator recited the version of the story i already knew.

molly’s emily felt more real to me than any other, this vibrant being of passion and humor and regret and sadness so deep that she didn’t know a way out. could i call her my sister then? fellow poetess with an affinity for the same kind of love?


i shared a photo of the book with my mother. the day after chemo is usually one of her best days of the week, steroids like buoys against the grey of sick sleep.

“i must have stolen this at some point,” i said. “i want you to have it, if you want it.”

instead, she said i should keep it. maybe it was meant for me. maybe it was my grandmother’s way of letting me know that she wasn’t really gone.

i’m not sure i believe something like that can happen. more than likely, it was serendipity, or maybe the vague tugging of memory, grief leading me back in time.

however the book came back to me, i’m thankful it did–if only for the reminder of books’ magic.