The way it feels in the end / by Christina Rosalie

I’ve fallen out of practice: noticing the little things, the blue pebbles amongst the brown ones, seeing the sunshine when it happens.

I’ve forgotten what it feels like to run hard: every day, with some conviction and speed, or do pull-ups, five in a row. This year my biceps and belly have grown soft.

Since turning my thesis in and finishing the last class, I've been wavering a bit. My heart feels like a giant squid, startling at the smallest hitch, at the slightest trepidation, to fill my thoughts with an unexpected blur of ink.

I’ve lost the tempo of doing things with my hands: raking wet leaves, or turning bread out onto the butcher block to knead it; and when the people I love ask, how are you? I am never sure what to say. Like the turbulent spring weather, it changes.

I can’t get this song out of my head.

I’ve been in self-preservation mode so long, I don't remember how to ease up and just be curious. I've forgotten how to laugh at the small stuff. I've been so damn seriousness for so long, because I was simply too tired to let any other emotion in traipse its way around my mind like a soft-footed cat. But now that I've finished, that cat has snuck in through the window, ferrel and reckless, spilling everything.

I had a cat walk across a painting once, wet with new India ink. It made tracks everywhere, across the floor. And that's what it feels like now. My emotions are messy. Unreasonable. Hilarious. Devastated. Delighted.

This is what coming down feels like. The hard pull of gravity and the softness of bones. A sudden hard stop, like the wind just got knocked from my lungs.

Maybe none of this makes sense.

The truth is: I'm ecstatic: it feels amazing to be finished, and where I am in my life now is . Yet it also feels so final that it's a little devastating in the way I've heard it is for runners after training for a marathon: 26.6 miles down, and then they wake up on the morning after and have no reason to train, no place to run to, no purpose to push. That feels good until it doesn’t, until the softness of cumulative exhaustion catches up, and what to aim for next is smudged and out of focus.

So this where I am right now: at the end of something, without being consciously at the beginning of something else.

// What do you do in situations like this? How do you ease into rest, refocus, move forwards?