You listened to High Violet while it streamed for free and bought it right away. And you liked it. A lot. You set it aside, replaced it with others, and it waited patiently for you. For the right night to come. For a long day at work, for heavy things to weigh you down, for a warm sun and a cool breeze to team up and create the perfect temperature as dusk settled in. For you to make plans and break plans and make plans again, for you to finally make it home and find yourself throwing on a rumpled white t-shirt and a pair of shorts, slipping your sun burned feet carefully into running shoes, making your way outside and down the street and across traffic and through the park and out onto the lakefront. For you to run, to get frustrated and flustered by your standard upbeat fast-paced playlist and decide to choose it instead.
And you really start to run. And The National run right with you, with voices low and dark, with lyrics harsh and real, with songs that seem to cry over and over “I know. It’s hard. It hurts. I know. But it’s going to be okay” . While you’re running away, while you’re running home. You slow down and speed up; you worry about your knees, but they’ll be fine. You feel a little less alone, as you pass other runners and bikers and couples and families and dogs, as the sun sets and the moon rises and lights up the still black water. You run far, and you don’t stop because you just can’t. You feel strong and alive and free.
And you run hard at the moon, with steady breath and a quick stride. The album ends as home nears, slowing down with you. And you remember a story your mom told you not long ago, about pausing under a bright moon and whispering thank you to herself before heading home. And you do the same thing. Thanking her and the night, together at once. You thank your legs for carrying your weight, and your heart for doing the same. You promise to take care of them both, those legs and that heart; to protect them and strengthen them and push them a little bit harder when they try to give up, when they try to shy away from threats of pain.
You listen to the album again at home. You realize it carried you and pushed you and held you for an hour, and you decide you’ll figure out exactly why and how tomorrow. You’ll save all the other things that didn’t get done for tomorrow, for another day. And instead you stretch, you practice that yoga pose you finally mastered last weekend, you add a few paragraphs to that story you’re writing, you raise the blinds up just high enough to scan the night sky for another glimpse of that moon. It’s there. Lingering patient and discreet. Not quite full but almost, rising up and growing slow and beaming strong and bright all the while.