From creativewritingfix.com: What do you think about when you can't sleep?
Confession: I do not like running. I have never been a jogger because I find it to be awkward, plodding, and painful. I can't think of any benefits that I get from jogging that I can't get from walking except, perhaps, destroyed knees and utter humility at my lack of jogging ability. However.
There was one morning when I was 20 years old that I woke up at 6:00 and laid there in my tiny bedroom. I stared at the ceiling, painted eggshell white. I was working as a nanny is West Los Angeles, California, about a mile of UCLA. I lived in a beautiful home that was built in 1929 and had a breakfast nook and a pool in the backyard. In this home, I worked for a truly incredible family who taught me many lessons and paid me well. This was my first true adventure--my first real money, my first real job, my first real "path less taken", and I was still wondering where it would lead. With my salary, I had recently bought myself a pair of truly good tennis shoes--navy blue Nike's with yellow and white trim that cost me $90.00. I had carried them home like they held the key to winning an olympic medal. Like I said, I wasn't a jogger, but something in me prompted me to swing my feet out of bed, get dressed, and open the heavy front door to go jogging. A part of me seemed to believe that these shoes deserved to go running. Just this once.
There were 18 slate steps from the home to the street. I had counted them many times as I carried groceries, children, and dry cleaning up these stairs. Bounding down them to the eucalyptus tree-lined street below, I turned right and I began to jog. It felt foreign and strange as I slowly propelled myself forward. Some people look beautiful when they run--light and airy. They bound or they glide. I always feel that I more closely resemble a rhinoceros that I once saw in a drive through safari--big and lumbering. So I took my first right into a side street, to be away from the stares of morning commuters, and started up into the hills just south and west of Bel Air.
I jogged for one mile, up and down the small roads near my nanny-home; the houses looking like they came straight out of a Better Homes and Gardens magazine. They had beautiful gardens and were painted pale, inviting colors. So very different than the arid, predictable neighborhood where I'd grown up. I remember distinctly the the achingly delicious scent of grapefruit and orange blossoms after a rain. I remember the curled, fragile white gardenia petals against their shiny green leaves. Beneath me, my feet beat out a rhythm that, somehow, reminded me of the beat of a song from the 1950s, "Runaround Sue." And there was a tiny space of time that day, on that run, when the whole world seemed to be in focus. When suddenly even I felt light and airy as I ran.
When I wake up in the night and I can't sleep, and my mind wants to wander to worrying, that's what I think about. I try to catch the memory of grapefruit blossoms and the mist of soft rain in an approaching day. The sound of my own feet flying easily across pavement.