Years ago, I ran a marathon.
Before I ran the marathon, I remember memorizing the route. Bands would be playing at certain spots. There were water stations. At some spot, there would be a sign made for me. But the thing I obsessed about was a candy station at mile 22.
As some of you who know me know, I do not indulge in candy often. I don’t have a sweet tooth. But for some reason, I obsessed about this candy station. I would think about it during the long brutal training runs in the heat of the summer—that, at mile 22, there would be candy.
Well, the day of the marathon came, and the first few miles passed in a blur. And then mile 21 hit. And it hit like a brick wall. Everything they say about the marathon wall was true for me. I didn’t think I could go any further. But, of course, I remembered the candy station! Must go on!
Then, I finally hit mile 22.
And the candy station wasn’t there.
I felt like I had been stolen from. Robbed.
I slowed to a walk. My body felt bruised and beaten. And there was no candy.
At that moment, I called a friend to pick me up. I decided to quit. I wasn’t going to finish this f*cking race without the candy.
But it’s hard to pick someone up at mile 22. I had to keep moving forward. I might have stomped. I definitely felt tears of resentment. I was mad about the fact that I didn’t have candy. It was admittedly not my best look. Tears, sweat, rage.
The candy station was at mile 22.9.
Once I saw it, I ran to the gummy bears. I had been expecting a Burning Man-esque show of candy, lights, and gluttony and was slightly humbled by its meager appearance. Nonetheless, for a moment, I felt relief. Felt the sugar.
And then I realized: only 3.3 miles to go.
I could do this.
My point is, lately I have been thinking about that candy station a lot. Like there was something in my head about the clock turning to 2021 that all of a sudden things would be turning a corner. This pandemic is going to end this year. Things were supposed to be better.
But no, it’s still the same race, except I am more battered and bruised and tired AF and I just want it to be over. I call my friends and they Facetime or text me. But I just want to hug them.
And some days I see the light. I see vaccines being shot in arms. I start dreaming of things that seemed forbidden even a few weeks ago. Vacations. Parties. Smiling at people in public (I used to do that a lot).
And then today it hit me. I need my own candy station. I need to celebrate where I am in this race. I need to somehow be grateful that much of this is behind me, and when I finish (and I will f*cking finish) I am going to be a better, stronger person with more love and empathy for my fellow humans.
So tonight, I wish for all of you to reach that candy station. We are going to get through this.
Sending you all peace, love, and gummy bears. Happy day whatever. We got this.