Own Up, Buttercup.

Dirt Roads in Taos

Dirt Roads in Taos

We were making the long drive from Taos to Santa Fe. Owen was driving me to the airport. After 3 months living in New Mexico, I was jetting back to San Francisco for a job interview. We pulled off the highway and into the parking lot of a high end grocery store. Stepping out of the car, the blinding sunshine made me squint. The automatic doors opened in front of us and we flip flopped into the air conditioned space. Owen and I wandered the aisles, distracted by our own banter. He even began relaying another story about his Grandma, which I knew at this point, always made him emotional. This is something I loved about Owen. We stood in front of refrigerators filled with milk as Owen reminisced about his sweet Grandmother and how she raised him, tears welling up in his eyes, but keeping a neutral face. There we stood, precious, love-soaked tears and a moment long-gone recalled under florescent lights on top of linoleum. I hugged and kissed him then before taking his hand as we continued on our stroll.

I was seeking something sweet. I was craving a chocolate filled croissant or raspberry muffin. Some delicious, buttery baked-good to put in my belly. Perhaps I was trying to fill the void in my gut, the one that felt that everything created over the last 3 months was coming to an end. The space somewhere between my stomach and my diaphragm that knew better than my brain whether it was excited or scared, but I couldn’t tell the difference. I wanted something warm and comforting in that space. Fill the void, fill the void, give me something. Owen and I had discussed, at length, the ultimate termination of our relationship – or the fact that commitment and definition did not exist between us. The vast expanse seemed to swell. But it was all an illusion, an interpretation to which I was experiencing an emotional response. Ah, sweet human existence. And here we were, spending some of our last intimate moments together at a grocery store somewhere in the middle of New Mexico.

Studio Earthship after a snow storm. October 2011.

Studio Earthship after a snow dusting. October 2011.

Owen was obsessed with CrossFit. He showed me videos of Miranda and other CrossFit babes, he talked to me about nutrition and Paleo, and gave me workouts to do. He showed me burpees, and timed us as we raced to 100 on his cool, mud-tile floor. Owen loved CrossFit and shared it with everyone around him. In his small Earthship studio he had set up a pull-up rig and weightlifting station. He would wrangle people to come over and program a WOD for them. We would do sit-ups and pull-ups inside, then bound out the door to run through the desert, leaping over prickly bushes and side stepping rocks.

I remember one time Owen even did this barefoot. We were working out with a heavy set friend of his who was visiting from Guatemala. Marco, a big strong bear of a man, who let his beer belly grow along with his beard. I outpaced him on the burprees and now we all jogged alongside each other over the cracked earth out on the mesa. As Owen practically hovered over the earth like a gazelle, I focused on regulating my breathing, and Marco thundered forward beside me. Owen put us both to shame with no shoes, gracefully springing over the bramble and natural debris. Marco undoubtedly felt competitive, and attempting his own launch over a bush, caught his foot and took a nose dive into the ground. “Are you OK!?” I asked, “Yea, you hurt Buddy?” said Owen. Marco scrambled up and dusted himself off. “Only my dignity” he replied and we all howled as we plodded onwards.

Earthship and desert. 2011.

Earthship and desert. 2011.

At the store we contemplated snacks for the remainder of our ride. I expressed interest in something glutenous and sugary, while Paul held a juice in his hand. He criticized my non-paleo choice and I promptly got upset and walked away. Jumping into the air, his skinny limbs pursued me. “I’m sorry! What did I say!? I’m just so excited about making healthy choices!!!” He practically yelled. Despite my upset, I laugh cried at this declaration. It was hard to hold anything against him in this moment, because I knew it was true. Owen was simply stoked about making healthy choices, God Damnit.

I often think of this story and think about the honesty behind Owen’s statement: I’m excited about making healthy choices. This is the place that change comes from. You want to lose weight? You want to get up earlier? You want to run a race? You want to write a book? Oh yea? Prove it.

How badly do you want it? Do you really want it or do you just dream about it materializing in front of you? As you train yourself to get excited about making the choices that will actually get you one step closer to your goal, that’s when change begins. The challenge and the beauty is that you don’t have to be excited about those choices right away, but if you want it bad enough, you can learn it. As I sat down to write today, I was not motivated to write about my experience in New Mexico with Owen. I was inspired to tell the story and knew I was because it’s the only thing that occurred to me when I asked myself “If I could write about anything today, what would it be?” Resistance stared back at me. “Just start, Bitch” is what I said to her.

Click-clacking away and 20 minutes later I had almost completed the story. The timer went off on my phone, but I wasn’t finished! Gah! I turned the alarm off and continued writing, determined to get to this point. This point, right here, where I tell you that it’s up to us. Only we ever make ourselves obese, ignorant, and mean. Own up, Buttercup. You are more powerful than you believe.

Sunset NM.

Sunset NM.

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