My original itinerary for this half marathon looked a lot like previous itineraries: JFK-SFO for an evening, then a four hour car ride north to Arcadia. Back down to Oakland, then to LA, then to Texas to see my boyfriend for a couple of days, and then back through Atlanta on the way to New York.

The breakup skewered this plan. But this also means THANK JESUS I DON’T HAVE TO GO THROUGH ATLANTA.

I’ll spend 48 hours in Mississippi before I’ll go through Atlanta-Hartsfield on a layover.

So, the plan has shifted: San Francisco to Seattle, Seattle to Portland, Portland back to JFK. I’m staying with friends in both Seattle and Portland (or, outside of Portland), and the two things at the top of my list, beyond catch up with them, are hike and eat.

Bring me ALL the nature. Every wet green leaf, every weird forest creature, every dirt path and tumbled stream and staid tree. Do not bring me bears. I draw the line at bears.

I want seafood caught that day, from somewhere other than New York Harbor (what even lives in New York Harbor?). My commutes are jammed with people, but beyond the backpacks and winter coats are daydreams of grilled oysters swimming in butter, flaky, roasted halibut dressed in clean-clipped herbs, fresh-fruit tarts and pillowy scones. I’ve been reading A Boat, A Whale & A Walrus and through Renee Erickson’s words and pictures, I can almost smell the soil and the saltwater, and see the saturated colors of the flora overtaking the space behind my eyes. My body is in New York City, but my heart and mind are in a Pacific Northwest I can only yet imagine.

Before I can get to the Pacific Northwest, though, I have to endure the personal American Gladiator obstacle course that is Texas.

I was hoping to avoid Texas; we’ll have had two conferences that I was sent to last year that I have not or will not attend this year, and I was hoping this journey to Texas would make a third. No such luck.

Rather than enumerate the lengthy number of reasons the Lone Star state is the worst, I’ll leave it at that. There are places I never again want to set foot, places that, if anyone knew what was good for us all, I wouldn’t be asked to go, and Texas is at the top of that list.

Alas.

In good-hustle fashion, the only thing left is to make the best of a bullshit situation. There is a nature preserve not far from the hotel this professional obligation is housed in. With a little luck, a little moxie, and some determination, I can get a few runs in on the preserve trails. The potential for that is making this bitter pill easier to swallow.

One of the first things I did after we broke up was redesign this trip to the best coast. The universe seems hell-bent on keeping him at the forefront of my mind. Here’s to losing his ghost in the lush forests of the north.

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