Fog. Days and nights of fog so thick I wonder if the artist Christo has wrapped the peninsula in cotton batting and left us to suffocate. I drive grandma speed, hunched over the steering wheel, on the lookout for deer casing neighborhood gardens during their pre-dawn perambulations. They like to appear suddenly in your headlights with that deer-in-the-headlights look.
It’s a hill repeat day. That’s runner-speak for “run up and down hills a bunch of times like a natural-born fool.” I have a few favorite hills in and around the state park north of town. Four hundred and thirty-five acres of forest, meadow and a restored 19th century military fort built on and below high bluffs overlooking the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Puget Sound, bordered by two miles of seashore–it’s a runner’s dream.
It’s just past 7 a.m. Usually there are other humans about, walking dogs or clutching travel mugs of coffee, heading for a bench on the bluff to greet the sun as it crests the Cascade Mountains. But on this morning, there is no dawn. There is only fog. The air is blue-black, thick, wet, cold. I am alone. I complete my warm-up mile around the former military parade ground and head down to the beach for my first set of repeats.
A gray ghost glides down the bluff and steps onto the road in front of me. His eyes flash gold and red, catching the pulses from my lighted wrist band. I halt in mid-stride, but my momentum nearly carries me head-over-heels downhill as my knees Jello out. I back up. Coyote watches me for a few heartbeats, then trots up the way he came. Me? I turn and run.
Back at the car, behind the safety of the open door, I search in the fog for Coyote. He stands on the edge of the bluff peering down at me, so close I could toss a pine cone and hit his brown-gray flank. I’m in awe, jolted and not a little pissed.
There goes my run. Coyote 1, Julie O.
But we’re both adaptable creatures. I head back into town and run the Washington and Monroe St. hills. Ever on the lookout for the damn raccoon that snarled at me last week.
It’s a jungle out there.
A few days after Coyote, I’m in a local bar with some women friends–a monthly get-together. We drink a couple of pints, talk local elections and books.
As we settle up our tabs and sort out jackets and purses, one of the women turns to me and says, “Julie, you are in such great shape. But of course, you’ve never had kids.”
Coyote stops in mid-stride and fixes his red-gold glare on me.
God DAMN it.
There goes my run. Coyote 2; Julie 0.
You’d think at some point shit like that would stop hurting. But it doesn’t.
The thing is, that statement had with no more malice than Coyote had for me, floating out of the fog and crossing my path. Said in ignorance? No, this woman knows my past, knows my pain. Said without thinking? Clearly, for there are so very many things wrong with correlating someone’s physical conditioning to their experiences with childbirth. And it’s one of those things you just.don’t.say. to someone who has suffered infertility and miscarriage.
Yet, here I am, making excuses for thoughtless people. What am I going to do–throw pinecones at Coyote and hope he’ll turn tail so I can continue down that hill without looking over my shoulder? As if.
Me? I’m the deer in the headlights. I turn and run. Straight into my own words.
A few days after the Coyote and The Bar, this e-mail landed:
We are thrilled to announce that your submission has been accepted into Three Minus One. Thank you so much for your wonderful contribution. Sean and I welcome you!
We also ask that you spread the word widely about Three Minus One. It is a labor of love for all involved! Please feel free to share on social media any and all developments regarding the book, and create links to your own websites to presell the book once it becomes available. We will do our best to keep you all in the loop as developments happen.
Here is a link so you can share your acceptance with your friends: Three Minus One Congratulations to Contributors
There are approximately 75 contributors.
Again, congratulations. There were over 600 submissions and it was tough competition, so this is a huge accomplishment and we are celebrating with you!
Brooke and Sean
Three Minus One is a book project tied to the soon-to-be-released film Return To Zero, about a couple whose child dies in the womb just weeks before his due date. Brooke is Brook Warner, editor of She Writes Press. Sean is Sean Hanish, the film’s writer and director. He’s also the father of that little boy. Three Minus One, to be published by She Writes Press in May 2014, will contain the essays, poems and visual art of women and men who have lost children through miscarriage or stillbirth. I am honored to be a part of this project and amazed that my voice will be among those speaking for all who cannot.
I must learn to live with Coyote, to know when it is time to raise my hands and shout to frighten him away or when I should back off and find someplace else to run. I can’t fight every battle, but I can add my words to the peace treaty.
“You have to understand, my dears, that the shortest distance between truth and a human being is a story.”
― Anthony de Mello