Once upon a time, there was a ginger-haired story teller who lived in a new castle on the pond’s edge. She liked to slip off into the woods, and skip down the trails until she found a rock or tree to climb up. From deep in the woods or high on a cliff she would look out to the great wide somewhere and dream big, wild dreams.
And when it was too cold or dark, she would put pen to paper. She would let all the words in her heart pour onto the paper before her, onto the screen open in front of her. Because truly, her words were her heart…
WE INTERRUPT THIS FAIRY TALE FOR AN IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT: I am the ginger-haired girl in this tale. Yes, I lived in an apartment called Newcastle. Yes, this is a love story. And yes, it’s gonna get mushy! Read at your own risk! Now, as I was saying…
Her words were her heart. And the more she wrote, the more she realized who she was and that there was more for her out there. She was already far from a place they called “home” but there was further to go for her. “Home” was a place on a map called New York State. She had been born there, had history and memories there, had crossed Ironman finish lines there, had grown and loved and lived… and lost there, “chasin’ what they says a dream, thinkin maybe it ain’t mine.”
In fact, it wasn’t her dream. None of it! So when she lost everything, it was her chance to find herself. She lost her husband the day he moved out. She lost her job one month later. She even lost running for a time. Her body and heart were injured, and she cried. But her determination was fierce, and her tears were not a waste. She resolved to never put her hopes, health, faith, joy, adventures, story telling or her dreams of a simpler life in the middle of the sea on hold to make someone else happy, understanding at last that anyone who truly loved her would never make such demands.
So when she got the chance, she signed the divorce papers, accepted the job offer, sold what she could and packed what she couldn’t in a UHaul, and drove it off to New Hampshire to get back her soul and her song. She knew that her soul mate could never find her if she couldn’t even find herself, and believed against all impossibility that “home” was not a building but a person.
New Hampshire was her puuhonua. Her place of refuge. On a bright day in June, she flew there on a broken wing and hid under the covering of its ever green branches. She healed. Her wounded, wild heart found its song again. Found its strong. Found the courage to dream of flying once more. Learned to live free or die.
She took the chance to reflect on a remote rock by the shores of New Hampshire’s Souhegan one warm July afternoon. In that moment, she caught her reflection in the lazy river’s waters and saw exactly who God made her to be! Exploring. Outside. Out of her comfort zone. Choosing every day to live a story worth telling. Alone in her adventures. Confident that THIS Sara was someone’s dream girl… If ever she could let her walls down again.
“If only he knew where I was and what I am doing right now, he’d fall in love with me. Dear God, let him be sitting on a rock, or off exploring in the woods right now – Let him know I’m out here, doing the same! I pray someday he’d find me – That our adventures would overlap. That someday we would land on the very same trail.”
And indeed he was off exploring in the woods. In Kaloko’s rain forest. Running on the trails of Tantalus. He was sitting on the side of the highway, high above Kona Tona, looking down on a field of lava rocks and fountain grass, and out at the sea of possibilities before running back home. He couldn’t see her.
She was beyond the horizon. But he sensed her, as she did him. He would find her somehow. Maybe on a rock in the moonlight, writing or dreaming as the waves rolled in around her. Dreams and words became blogs. Blogs that he had been reading in fact.
He read her words. She followed his adventures. Smiled when his photos popped up in her Instagram feed. Panoramic images of Mauna Kea that he took while trail running, with captions like “Almost the entire day you could see Mauna Kea with no clouds. If the road were any more rocky I’d probably have tripped and fallen from the amount of times I looked up at her and was awestruck by her beauty.”
On a rock in the middle of the Pacific we call the Big Island, there is a tribe of adventure chasers that the ginger-haired girl adored. Although she had never met him, this trail-runner was part of that tribe. She caught a glimpse of his passion for life and his pure heart and positive spirit in those posts.
But there was a girl who shared his last name. Who commented on all his posts. His wife? Well naturally someone so magical was taken, right? Still, the ginger admired his joy from afar, his ability to appreciate the simple beauty of a mountain or sunset, his adventures. They inspired her to chase sunsets and summits and her own big, wild dreams!
She chased the summer sun until it set into Lake Winnapausakee. She chased other runners through the woods of Pawtuckaway Park and behind Freestyle Farm. Autumn overlapped summer like crimson leaves falling onto a lily pad-covered lake.
She was accused of being “Too all over the place” by one guy. “Too enthusiastic” by another. “Why would you write a book?” one asked when she shared her literary dreams. “Can we just be friends?” another proposed. So, she chased solo adventures, beautiful and lonely and magical and necessary adventures.
She found the courage to dream of really flying once more. A terrifying notion at first. Was she truly prepared to let her walls down again? And then an obsession, her heart bursting with big, crazy dreams. Knowing she simply could not settle for ordinary, she waited in frustration to take that next step into the unknown.
She chased one story all the way to Denver, flew to Dallas for another. She was done trying to find him. Her soul mate would have to find her… On a trail, or on a plane, or lost in her words.
“Anyone worth falling in love with will make the effort to find me in the middle of my adventures,” she wrote in a post. He was the first to click on that Instagram heart. If he was married, why would that post have prompted him to respond?! Because he was not in fact taken! She had convinced herself for months that the girl who shared his last name was his wife, but she was, in reality, his sister (cue Patrick Stover laughing hysterically)! A few texts to her dear friend (also his running partner) in Hawaii confirmed it.
“He’s single? He’s hot! But don’t tell him I said so.” Fortunately, the friend disregarded this plea! True, he possessed a rugged charm, and she was attracted to his boyish smile and lean muscles, tanned and defined by the sun and the miles. But it was his pure, passionate heart that drew her to him. Why couldn’t she have said THAT to her friend instead of “He’s hot?!”
Well, she said what she said. Juvenile words perhaps, but something shifted. Her words elicited a response, four days later. “Hey, I’ve been hearing about you. I would like you to know I like your writings. They are encouraging, inspiring and reflect your emotions. I don’t know you, but through your words I feel in a sense I do. Keep writing and I’ll keep reading.”
Her words?! The very words she had poured onto the paper before her, onto the screen open in front of her?! Those words were her heart. The very heart that was at that moment racing very fast! She wrote him back, thanking him for reading her blogs, letting him know that he inspired HER. He replied.
“Someday someone will teach you to love again. They will piece back together your heart. And show you its not something to be discarded, but a precious gift that’s to be cherished.” And the girl cried, because she knew he had read the hard posts, read the words that poured out of a broken heart.
As good as she was at harnessing words to express herself, there were some hopes and dreams she was too terrified to even verbalize, so she hid them deep in her soul, in between the words. Yet somehow, this man she had never met was putting them into words. How could it be that he had seen into her soul?!
She wrote him, he wrote her. The most authentic words, traveling from one heart, across the Pacific to another. And then he sent a message of clarification…