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This post is part of my 2022 Word Project. You can read what that’s about here.

Friday, February 25, 2022

In search of a word, I went sifting through old photos, where “old” is “anything not on my current phone.” I decided that since it is sometimes a huge pain to find an appropriate photo to go with my words, I’d find a word to go with a photo instead. Pictures are worth thousands of them, right?

Lots of pictures of my cats. Lots of pictures of food. No word.

I had an idea this morning but could not narrow it down to less than a sentence and this is not the Sentence Project. So I tucked it away for further reflection.

My mind is quiet tonight. No angst, no worrying, no thinking. It makes coming up with a word quite a bit more difficult. Turns out angst is a useful thing. But it is not today’s word.

Sifting through old photos didn’t yield much.

I came across pictures of Christmas at our house when my nephew was little more than a baby. I texted them to my parents because I knew they’d love it. He is going to be eight soon, which made my mother and me say, “How did that happen?” like you do.

No word.

I came across photos of Ralph and me podcasting in various places, with various people, with various strange mid-sentence expressions on our faces. I sent some of those photos to the people in them, because I figured they’d get a kick out of them.

No word.

I came across pictures from the 40th not-a-surprise birthday party Ralph threw for me. I had bangs then.

Still no word.

Ralph coincidentally unearthed another photo of me with bangs and showed it to me yesterday. Two photos of me with bangs in one week. I told him, Don’t ever show me that picture again.

I looked terrible with bangs, especially because they were uneven on the best of days. The only thing worse than having bangs was growing them out.

No wonder when my grandmother saw them for the first time she made a face and said, “Pssht. I don’t like them.” Then went about her day.

My grandmother was not one to hide her feelings. You never had to wonder if that dress made you look fat, because she would tell you.

The word is not bangs.

Except… something about them. Something poked my brain, not a word, but… hm.

In another photo, I was wearing big hoop earrings. I didn’t know those were allowed post-80s. Yet there they were, on my head. The big hoop earrings looked much better than the bangs. I had quite a penchant for very big earrings. Then I stopped having a penchant for very big earrings and started wearing very tiny earrings. Nowadays, I wear no earrings, because where am I going to wear them to, the kitchen table? Post-pandemic, I’ve forgotten what it’s like to brush my hair, let alone wear earrings.

This morning Ralph and I had a video call with a client. You have to do hair and makeup for those, so I got ready in the usual way, curled my hair a bit, put on a dusting of eyeliner, got dressed in a nice shirt and sweatpants. Ralph didn’t have to do anything to his hair because he buzzed it a few days ago, but he also got dressed in a nice shirt and sweatpants. For a moment, I was struck by the absurdity of it, and laughed.

The New Normal. You no longer have to get dressed for work, only half dressed. Who is going to see your bottom half on a video call? I don’t know what our client was wearing, except for a nice shirt. I don’t even know where he was sitting because you can change your background to be anything you want. There were two other people on the call and one was on the beach and the other was in a corner penthouse overlooking a city. The only thing that gave it away was that they kept disappearing, which is what happens when you try to impose a fake background on a video call.

I did not wear earrings.

The photos did not yield up a word. All I saw were things that made me want to do other things. Like wear giant earrings. And a headband.

I went through a headband phase where I wore these wide, fabric bands like something out of a 70s magazine. Maybe I did it to push back the bangs, who knows. But I liked them.

Browsing these photos, I started to wonder. When did I get so BORING and … what is the word? Lame. So, so lame.

Do you know what else I want to do? Run.

I want to run.

Isn’t that ridiculous? I mean, Miss Fail High School Gym Because She Can’t Run A Ten Minute Mile? Why on earth would I want to run?

But I do. Not run, like go running. Not like, get out of bed, tie my sneakers and run around the track or down the block or something. And certainly not on the treadmill.

I want to put on my Vibrams and go out to the park and just run, as fast as I can, flying down the hills and the wind blowing my hair everywhere. I want to run across the grass and feel like I can soar like a bird if I tried hard enough.

And wear something green.

I don’t own anything that is green but I want to wear something bright green. Maybe lime.

A couple of years ago I switched from tie-your-sneakers to five-finger shoes. They are designed to mimic being barefoot. No cushion, no arch support, just a covering and flat rubber sole to keep you from stabbing yourself with rocks and things. There are all sorts of arguments about whether this is a more natural way to walk. For me it is a more comfortable way to walk. It’s an amazing way to run.

It actually changes your stride because you can’t hit heel-first when you run in these shoes. I mean, you can, but it’s going to be bad and probably painful. You have to hit more flat-footed, more ball-first. It takes a while to get the hang of it but once you do, you can go so much faster.

Last summer I ran for the first time in… I can’t even tell you how long. At first I did it out of curiosity, to see how it worked with those shoes. It was hard. I complained a lot. It annoyed me and made me mad. I complained some more.

But really, here is what happened. I was walking through the park, the one where Ralph and I do a three mile loop that is 80% grass and 10% stabby rocks, and the grass was soft and green and the wind was breezing and there were birds swooping wherever they pleased, and I had my headphones on playing Mamma Mia. And instead of walking I got a little dancey. And then I felt like running. So I did.

I stopped thinking about how to ball-strike and zoomed down that hill as fast as I could, figuring I’d inevitably end up going head over heels and breaking something, but not caring in that moment. For a second I got close to the birds.

Today, a couple of photos of bangs and earrings made me want to do that again.

I decided what I want to write about, even though I have no word and no photo.

I want to write about things that I want to do that make me feel like me. That I forgot about as I became a blob of atoms just functioning through life.

What is that word? I do not know.

I think it relates to wanting a breakfast burrito. I would normally not ever randomly say, I want a breakfast burrito. Today it struck me that I did, and I actually said it, and we went out and got one. Most of the time even if I do think it I don’t say it because…

I don’t know?

Because I fade into nothingness.

At least when I had bangs I did something that was me. I mean, it wasn’t me me, it looked stupid, but it was a me-action. Something I did as a matter of course of living my life.

Now I just overthink or don’t think at all.

The title of this post came to me, but not the word. The word, it escaped me. The idea was there, so I decided to start writing and see where it led. And where it led, is right back to the title. Turns out the word was right there for the plucking.


I want to escape the mundane and the inertia, the thing keeping me on the ground when I could be flying with the birds. I want to escape the feeling of not knowing where I went. I want to escape my own velocity. I think it starts with a breakfast burrito then leads to big earrings and then to flying.

It appears that this is not a conclusion but a beginning. It seems like it could lead to a lot of future words. I think, if we’re being real, I need to go buy a lime green shirt and see what kind of me comes out of it.

Photo: caught mid-flight at the park where all the running happened.