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I Used to be Fast

A remembrance of true escape.

By M.C. Murphy Published 3 years ago 3 min read
Top Story - July 2021

I used to be fast.

I've had fleeting moments, but could never pinpoint a time in my life I could confidently say, "I am happy." I wonder if anyone truly is because I cannot conceive of that feeling lasting longer than a few minutes at most. I hear people say they are and feel how I imagine the blind must feel when being told about color. The knowing that I don't understand and never will is as horrible as it is perplexing.

I would anesthetize myself through art. Be it drawing, painting, photography, writing. Or music. I would sing, attempt something at least semi-recognizable as dance, my fingers would fumble over the piano. I would do so much, try so hard, but nothing would make me forget the traumas. Nothing would stop the OCD torture. I'd fight through as long as I could and end up with so much unfinished. Stories with no endings. A half painted canvas.

But I was fast. I was never coordinated, you'd just have to see my "dancing" and you'd know I wasn't a natural athlete.

I was just fast. I had been since I was a kid. Maybe it was my long legs, maybe my competitive upbringing or maybe I was just built to run away.

I felt adrenaline simply lacing up my shoes, anticipating the high. A few years later, I would only get that anticipation high from opening a bottle to drown in.

I would end up so far from home with no fear I couldn't make it back before dark when I ran. I was faster than the setting sun. Conversely, fear would become all I knew years later.

I was strong and I was fast. The music in my ears propelled me forward even in those moments I felt my muscles were going to tear, and my lungs were going to catch fire. Oddly, I liked the feeling of my lungs burning. It meant I was doing a good job. The uncountable packs of cigarettes later didn't feel like a good job.

My heart pounded so loudly it drowned the music but I was not afraid. I was still too young for a heart attack, and I did not have to worry about an aneurysm bursting in my brain just yet.

I would see a landmark far in the distance and promise myself, "You can rest there." The wind I created kept me cool even in the 120 degree summers. The strange looks I got being out in that heat, with my Irish skin turned beet red only fueled me further because I felt different. I felt special. I felt like an Olympic champion in my own young mind.

I was never afraid of the men in cars who would follow me at every turn. I could outrun them.

I was never afraid of falling down the rock littered mountain trail. I was a champion. The mountain was the only place I was agile, as if I was built for it. It was the only place I could make my body move exactly how I wanted it to with precision.

The dust kicked up during those summers with no foot traffic but my own to pack it down. I was alone. I didn't have a cell phone yet. And somehow, I wasn't afraid. And only there, it felt good to be alone.

Reaching the summit, I would look down in awe at all the little cars and tiny houses. I always wondered what was going on in that very moment in those houses. They didn't know I was watching and wondering about them. I was an observer of the world up there, rather than a part of it. Up there, even that felt okay.

When I ran, I caught glimpses of what it must feel like to be happy. Even on vacation, I would run to escape. It was the only way to be present in beautiful places.

Now the brain aneurysm has made sure I cannot run. My body is breaking and I doubt I'll ever be fast again.

But when the pain seems unbearable and I can no longer run away the fear, I take myself back to the time that I was fast.

Humanity

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M.C. Murphy

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    M.C. Murphy Written by M.C. Murphy

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