Without the annoyingly smooth melody of the Android alarm clock, my eyes popped open. I could tell it was morning by the sliver of light that pierced the darkness. It was my day off and I still woke up a quarter to seven. I squinted at the phone screen as the light burned my eyes and my heartbeat started to increase in anticipation of my morning run.
Hopping out of bed I relieved myself and splashed water on my face proceeding to get dressed. I started to get frustrated searching for a pair of compression shorts through the disheveled area I called a closet. It brought me to a conversation I had with a respected friend where we both came to the realization that the order of our living space was a direct reflection of my life and mental state.
The financial struggles that have rearranged my schedule, the grueling effects of my commute to work and the uncomfortable uncertainty ensuing the hiss of the motion censored doors, the erratic cycles of dating, fatherhood, going back to court, and a plethora of other ailments. Like the image that stares blankly in the mirror questioning the uncharacteristically long break without a blog post or podcast or running. Making excuses instead of finding solutions. Diving in pleasures to hide in the noise. Neglecting responsibilities, sitting in a nothingness.
Unfortunately, unlike the loops in my laces, some situations fail to tie into a neat bow and business tends to be left unfinished. Life goals set that I've seemingly fallen short on, like my basketball career and my vision of the ideal family. Donning my clothes and popping in my headphones I quietly walked outside as my body screamed to lay back down. I power through in desperation to shake this feeling of laziness, a lack of enthusiasm.
Going through my normal warm-up routine I thought about this cycle I keep getting wrapped up in. The one called love, and the pursuit of marriage and a gleaming happiness by those who have jumped that broom. I find myself repeating the same mistake of being blinded by the sex, or conversation, beauty, or life goals. An attribute so enticing that it temporarily overpowers emotions causing me to make premature decisions that later turn into a form of regret.
It seems like I can never find a satisfactory balance of a good bedroom and intellectual relationship. One where we plan to build an empire, set up dates to work on our businesses, laugh, joke, and expend our energy in positions that allow us to connect in a deeper and more intimate way. It's either one or the other but my initial impression proved to be false before, and it pertained to the intellectual and not the physical.
I had to ask myself. If that's the personality they put forth because that's what they believe I want, what am I portraying to make them feel that's all I need to satisfy me? Furthermore, is it me, am I the problem? I switched songs taking off at a jog listening to a recycled thought and engrained idea that this part of my life would've been easier if they never touched me like that.
My legs didn't feel as heavy as I thought they would. After taking two months off I knew the first run would be the hardest, I just hoped I didn't cramp, or my back didn't tighten. I eagerly anticipated the mind clearing experience that I crave, and I believe the lack of it has offset me. Even though I require music when I run, it's only there as background noise to my thoughts.
Crossing the street and rounding a dangerously tight curve I hook a left onto the road that leads to the next city. I like to joke and tell people I run from Raleigh to Cary because the border is less than a mile from my townhome. I controlled my breathing as it started to labor, expanded my stride, and picked up speed.
With my love for running, I've recently wondered. Where am I running to? Who or what am I running from? Much like my love for reading, I'd get lost in the characters and the plot that I would no longer be in tune with my own storyline. Same with basketball, an escape. It makes me question the validity of the love I claim to have for the things that are me. Is it real?
Or am I just, running.
I tuned back into my music as I passed the soccer fields on my left and the train tracks on my right. Jogging against the traffic allows me the courtesy to move out the way of a distracted or swerving driver. I would need all fingers and toes to count the many close calls I've encountered, the most dangerous was when a police car entered the shoulder. Given the almost nonexistent value the world puts on my life, and the imperceptible systems that are used to sustain this country. I'm forced to question intent.
The lactic acid building up in my legs was starting to become more noticeable as I approached the round-a-bout I use as a landmark for turning around. Pursuing on, I thought about this poem I wrote.
Running, expounding on short-term or everlasting.
Problems found in.
The foot falls.
Forgetting my thoughts, I took time to tune into my own body. I listened to the cadence created by my breathing and feet. Percussion and wind, just like God gave us to replace the fallen angel whose strongholds are like the grip of an ape. Maybe that's why I'm running, feeling like Adam and Eve after receiving the revealed truth of the apple. I outwardly chuckled, which sounded more like a short snort, knowing that there was no escaping God while still wrapping my head around this concept of grace.
Keeping on, I ran through the spot I associate with the praise break I had to the song "See a Victory" by Elevation Worship. I remember running with tears streaming down my face, believing God for the victory in battle but failing to lean on him for the war. I saw the victory I was seeking. Now, I'm in another battle, wondering if I'm losing the war.
Although hip hop blasted in my ears, I prayed for insight as the thought of going back to court weighed on me. Needing to readjust child support because my life is in a different place than it was last year. I got more bills, my kids are getting older, and that hour drive is killing my car and wallet. It's hard to fathom that I have trouble moving or buying a house or even getting an adequate loan for that matter, simply because of the amount I have to pay.
The money in itself is never the problem for me, but when it affects my everyday life and my kids then it becomes an issue. If I'm struggling and getting Amara half of the year and Amelia less than a third, how is it to their benefit. I'm still responsible for them while they're here regardless of the fact the custody agreement doesn't say "primary" by my name. I really wish we could make it work outside of the courtroom, but patterns are repetitive. All I can do is have hope for the future.
Intentionally increasing speed, albeit slightly, pushing myself when my legs are the most tired nearing the end of my run. Fourth quarter. In the neighborhood I grew up in, I would turn on Lil Wayne's "6 Foot 7 Foot" at the same exact spot on my return from my run. I clocked where I should by the way the beat dropped. I tried to get further each time.
Those were the days of the grind. The basketball grind, at least. Now I'm on a different wave, a second act, if you will. One nothing like my last. One where what's bottled up isn't expressed through physical exertion, but rather, written words that convey masked emotions. It's a lot more vulnerable.
With that, I need to revamp Elliott Quinton L.L.C., get my logo, get my merchandise created, make For Fathers Podcast more visual, finish my short story series, and ultimately, my book. I've been writing and I've been working, but I'm realizing there's areas that I need to tune up in order for me to be as successful as I can be.
One of the first steps is writing a business plan for Elliott Quinton. At work, we've been harping on leadership development that has a wing in planning and organization. I've been learning a lot and grateful for the experience. With the knowledge I'm going to expand my platform but have a detailed path set before I take my first leap.
As always, I sprinted the last 100 meters. Temporarily freeing my mind striving to finish nonstop and at a satisfactory speed. As long as I've been running, I convinced myself that this final sprint was a representation of the grit to never give up and push through every obstacle. I paced the grassless yard in front of my townhouse to cool down. Slowing my heart rate and calming my athletic diaphragm as my breathing started to regulate.
I instantly found the motivation to write. I couldn't wait to slide my computer out my book bag and place it on top of my desk. Wiping away dust particles and inspecting my device ensuring no additional scratches or dings. Plugging in the charger and gently separating the screen from the keyboard, I wipe away evidence of my last use. The colorful Lenovo emblem occupied the screen until it came to life, asking for my password and automatically opening to my website.
Mentally setting the scene to write this blog, I think about the three pillars I want Elliott Quinton to be founded on. An acronym, ART, Authentic. Raw. Transparent. I believe that my ability to speak above translucency enables me to connect on a deeper level without direct dialogue. My words, my art, the page, my canvas, painting a picture that gives you all of me. Cutting deep, just to show you my heart.
Amelia and Amara, daddy loves you.