A Life More Complete - By Nikki Young Page 0,1

Even with all that is said, I still had a ray of hope that clouded my pessimistic viewpoint on the subject, along with love and marriage. I hoped that someday I would fall in love, marry, and get that official redo that I felt I was so aptly owed.

I left Naperville, Illinois, on August 8, 1996 and haven’t spoken to my mother since. But there will come a time in my life when I believe she will be the only person who will understand my choices.

---Chapter 1---

It’s been exactly ten years to the day since I left home. I roll over and groan at my alarm as it does its steady stream of ear-piercing beeps. Five fifteen, my usual wake-up call. Rolling to a sitting position at the edge of the bed, I pull on my running shorts and a tank top. I fumble with my laces and eventually slide my feet into what I know as home—my running shoes. Running is an addiction that I can’t overcome, and as far as addictions go, I guess it isn’t so bad.

Eight miles, my morning routine, and without it my day will be shot. Running keeps my OCD at bay and curbs my insomnia. Today is a Tuesday and added to my morning run is my beach yoga class.

I step out of my condo into the cool morning air that is only created in California. I live in the Sand section of Manhattan Beach, my condo, a total steal when I bought it six years ago, but a total dump, too. I breathe in the smell of salt as I long to feel the pavement pounding against my feet. I love the summer, the long, extended bursts of lasting sunlight, but as August impedes the sunlight recedes, leaving too early and appearing too late. I have an irrational fear of the dark. The kind of fear that grips you and makes your heart feel like it may explode out of your chest. It’s like watching a horror movie. I picture serial killers lurking, along with mask-wearing lunatics and gun-wielding psychopaths hiding in the darkness. Like I said, irrational. My outdoor runs will end due to this fear somewhere near October. Yet, today I know the sun will rise at 6:01am. I have to know this or else the fear will take over. I set off on my usual route down to the beach, taking Moonstone to Ocean and Ocean to 42nd Street, 42nd to the beach, then just slightly east of the pier for yoga, knowing that by the time I hit the sand the sun will begin to rise. The route is fully memorized.

The date floats around in my head as I eliminate my first mile: Tuesday, August 8, 2006. I left potholes for sinkholes, construction for gridlock, tornadoes for earthquakes; most would think it a lateral move. I walked away from a lake for an ocean, snow for sunshine, quietly explosive dysfunction for comfortably unfamiliar calm. Running allows me to reflect on my life and the choices I have made. I know without a doubt that I have no regrets. But I also steal a few minutes to recall all the memories of my former life that I still long for and desire in my moments of weakness. Deep-dish pizza and Chicago-style hot dogs. The oppressive extreme humidity and heat of a Midwest summer, something most would grow to hate. Not me—I loved it, I craved it. It was like being hugged by a warm, wet blanket every time you left your house. Summer thunderstorms and heat lightning, something my mother feared, forcing me to love it unconditionally. My undying love for the Chicago Cubs and Wrigley Field imposed upon me by my grandfather. We spent countless summers together pressed against strangers in the bleachers, eating peanuts and drinking lemon shake-ups. The sun burning down on us so intensely it actually blistered my shoulders once.

I shake my head to clear my thoughts. I press my feet firmly into the ground and my quads begin to burn as they always do around mile four. When I left home, this is what I envisioned and my dream had focused into a reality. And although successful, it’s difficult to be truly happy with where I ended up. The irony isn’t lost on me. I’m following a path closely related to my mother and it scares the shit out of me. I’m not surprised. Built from the same DNA, alike in so many ways,