Lacing up my Asics up for my daily run, I have to admit: this is definitely getting easier.
The snake-like curves, the defeating hills, the new neighborhoods; they are now welcome challenges. And I am finally getting a hang of my new town, one mile at a time.
One landmark during my run is a large cemetery; from its sheer size, it’s a fair assumption that most of this city’s dead rest there. It stretches forever from the road as I run past. So many dead and dry bones. So many lives that have run their course. So many people that lived and died here.
Do I want to die here, too?
After a few months, I know I am destined to wander again. But as I pass by these monoliths and monuments; foreign, ornate and strange; I remember instead the familiar, smooth stone resting above my grandmother’s grave. I can still see her face, unnaturally peaceful in that strangely ornate casket, only to be buried in red, Oklahoma earth.
So far away. So far away from my own burial grounds. So far from the land that my closest members were born, lived, laughed, cried, sang and died in.
As I run on, I wonder: what are people like me doing here? Wandering so far away from our families, our ancestors? My great-grandfather traveled across the Atlantic from his fatherland, his Germany. The waters carried him to Oklahoma. What was he doing, an entire world away from his family soil? The air he breathed, his family had never breathed before. His hands tore at the earth that no one in his line had ever touched. What drove him? What drives us? To plunge into the unknown, uncertain whether we shall ever return?
I know I can return to Nebraska, to Lincoln. My fatherland. I know I will see my friends and family again. And eat once again of Sher-E-Punjab’s splendid Indian fare. And watch once again the Haymarket District’s busy streets from my corner of The Mill, steaming coffee cradled in my hands.
But I also know: I need to do this. I need to do this for myself. I shall never be more than what I am, if I do not step out.
Will it be easy? I don’t think I ever thought it would be… but I also never knew how it would feel, to be the odd one out. The outsider, leaving behind family and friends. Along with the bones of my relatives, my ancestors, my loved ones. Hidden and tucked away within the fields and hills, the wind combing the grass sprouting from the stirred, red earth.