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  • Say you've just finished up the most transformational year of your life so far. Within a span of 366 days (it's a leap year), you:

    - were forced to stop bike racing, an activity that has defined who you are for the last ten years, due to a defect of your heart;
    - with your husband, bought your first house, moved, and poured yourself out in the act of making your house into a home;
    - underwent a procedure to fix the problems with your heart (it didn't work);
    - watched the widening of the cracks in your relationship that you've ignored for years;
    - asked for help;
    - realized how lonely you can be in the company of the person who is supposed to love you the most;
    - underwent a second procedure to fix your broken heart (it worked for the literal, not the figurative);
    - cooked a goose for Christmas dinner, the first and only holiday you would host in your house;
    - fought and fought and fought to keep your life intact, even though you were unhappy, even though you were exhausted;
    - felt the final thread break;
    - left;
    - realized the thread wasn't keeping you from falling, it was tying you down;
    - began to soar;
    - hit a draft and dipped a little;
    - caught a breeze and flew a little higher;
    - found an apartment just big enough for you, and moved again;
    - find yourself with your own life, your own blank slate, for the first time in eleven years.

    Just say. What do you do after a year like that?

    Do you go back to your roots? Find yourself drawn to water; the snowmelt-cold rapids of the river that defined the landscape of your childhood; lakes that are turquoise in the middle and muddled brown along the shore; a wide, flat river in the middle of the country whose water is inexplicably colored red, making your skin look like it's on fire when you submerge; a still moonlit pond at midnight? Fill coffee mugs with wine and hop a fence to lay in a wading pool with your best friend after dark, giggling and slapping at mosquitos. In a pinch, you spend long hours in the bathtub?

    Maybe you notice that old friends are coming back into your life in droves. They didn't know you as the person you became during the last eleven years; they know you as you were before, the person you are becoming once again. You realize how much you need the company of people who see you as you really are. You realize how long it has been since you have felt like who you really are, or been her.

    Maybe you drive up twisty mountain roads to your old haunts, smiling as your reflexes remember the turns. You sleep outside under a million stars and wake up with the sun. There are trees everywhere. The grass surrounding the picnic table is so green that it hums.
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