hi other sarah

west seattle on a split personality weather day

When I'm in a rut, a little melancholy, I find it can be helpful to find ways to turn my focus away from my slumpy self. And so in my laissez faire running (aka continued battle against burnout) I signed up to be a Girls on the Run running buddy. I've been a running buddy a couple times before and really love the experience. The girls are at this great age between being a kid and being a tween. Emotionally they are like teeny puppies with huge paws.   

The practice 5k was this last Monday at Alki Elementary where I was assigned. And I had two running buddies because of a shortage of volunteers. Taylor was a Seahawks fan, dressed in leggings a hoodie and new running kicks. Margot wore floral Doc Martens and jean jacket, new braces on her teeth. They both excitedly talked at once, jumping in place, when the leaders would say, "Tell your running buddy your favorite color!" "Tell your running buddy your favorite fruit!" (Blue and ALL of them). 

After getting to know each other's favorite things and warming up in the gym, we were out into the cold rain to run the 5k. My little cotton dressed running buddies were sopping wet by lap 2, or as Margot yelled "I'M SOPPED!!!" We ran the same little loop 6 times. Every 12 strides or so they'd stop and blurt out random announcements like, "My bangs are longer than my face!" or "Look at the tiny grill, do you think they have to cook tiny food on it?" "That house looks like a Mexican restaurant."

We jumped over every puddle as they grew larger and larger in the rain, and extra points were given for  style. Spin around kick jumps were very popular with the judges. After clearing the big puddle on the back side of the loop we realized our voices echoed over the field. On three we yelled, ECHO!!!! And then Margot yelled "Hi OTHER MARGOT!" and when we got to the other side of the field a few minute later yelled back to her past self, "HI OTHER MARGOT!!" 

When we approached the end of the last lap they both took off, elated to complete an entire 5k!! Then they went back to cheer on the last couple girls behind us. When got back to the classroom where we'd met they gave me hugs and were on their way. 

I headed out in the wind and rain to run my old 6 mile loop. I could breathed in the oceany smell of West Seattle. The spray of the Puget Sound whipped up by the wind. I love the open window to the water there, on the "island" where I used to live. This corner of the world that feels like my home.

I haunted all the sidewalks I used to run. I flew past lit windows, TVs glowing blue. I ran past the places we used to eat, the little shops I love. Things were already different, changed in my absence. I felt hollow sadness, like the time I visited the house we moved away from in 6th grade. When I saw my old room and it was and it wasn't mine at the same time. Like seeing a ghost of myself.

As I ran through the dark streets of my old neighborhood it felt like whispering, "Hi other Sarah."


  1. Sarah, this is so beautiful and so you on many levels. The writer you, not jus the runner you, shines out in this. And your love of children and those gorgeous silly moments. I hope you create new cozy memories in your new hood!

  2. I love this so much. The girls sound so fun and funny and awkward and perfect. And I completely understand that feeling you describe at the end. Several years ago I was able to visit the house my family moved away from the summer before 8th grade. The place in my closet where I had written my name and age was still (in pencil no less!) there. It was this amazing, unexpected gift and also made me feel so melancholy at the same time. I think that maybe to feel that "Other Sarah" feeling and miss a place means that you have loved it well.

  3. oh, this so resonates for me right now. thank you for the lovely words on people, place and perspective. it's all so affirming

  4. yeah, this was great. you've inspired me to get involved with my local chapter. thanks for sharing.

  5. I feel the same way when I'm in West Seattle. It was my first neighborhood when I moved here in 2004 and it always make me a little nostalgic. I've done more Saturday runs through Lincoln Park, along Alki, and up Admiral than any other neighborhood. The salty sea breeze is hard to beat. Great post, Sarah.

  6. Beautiful thouhts, brilliantly expressed!

  7. Wow, a great story and a great piece of writing. And I feel that way about all of Seattle, now that it's been 4 years since I lived there. Whoa, nostalgia and inspiration. Thanks!


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