The penultimate walk.
I never really thought I would get here.
I set aside the whole day for this walk so that I would not feel rushed on my last day out. I knew this would be a long one and a physical push, but I didn’t expect to feel so mentally overwhelmed by it. I was an emotional wreck all day.
Maybe part of my mental exhaustion was that I was really, really tired from all the walks I had crammed in the previous couple of weeks (four per week, one which was nearly 14 miles), or that I was starving because I couldn’t find a place to eat for most of the day (London definitely has its food deserts).
The truth is probably closer to the fact that I am not good at finishing things, particularly things that are meaningful to me and only me. It was a really big deal to suddenly find that I might actually get through it all and be able to say I did it, and that I did it entirely for me. It was kind of exciting and terrifying and empowering and overwhelming.
I spent the whole day face to face with a lifelong personal battle: if I finish the walks, it means I can no longer buy into the idea that I am not capable of finishing what I start because I will have an undeniable counter to that argument plastered on my bedroom wall – a big map completely filled in with big, fat, blue marker. If I finish the walks, I won’t be able to buy into my own bullshit about being incapable of living my life the way I want to. If I finish the walks, I will have no more excuses.
But I like excuses. They are really friendly. They hang out with me and watch movies while I study, and they tell me what kind of ice cream to buy when I am on a diet. Excuses are so very helpful because they let me do whatever the hell I want. And finishing this walk looked like an awfully good way to get my excuses to pack up and leave me for new friends. No one likes losing friends. The excuses told me that if, instead, I didn’t finish this walk then I would always have lots of more excuses for BFFs, and that seemed pretty enticing.
The excuses also promised me a chance for a lifelong get-out-of-jail-free card. They said that if I didn’t finish the next to last walk this day, then I wouldn’t be able to finish the last walk in time, and then I wouldn’t be able to have my party, and in the future, every time I get almost to the end of something, I won’t have to finish it because I didn’t finish this project, and that’s because that’s just who I am: the girl who doesn’t finish things.
I spent a lot of the day wanting to bail and go home, and as I walked on I had conversations with every excuse in the book.
Excuse: This is boring.
Me: Ok, yes it is a bit. There isn’t a lot going on here, but maybe we’ll find something awesome….Look! Here’s some more of those coloured box things we always take pictures of. You love these things, yeah? See? It’s a totally exciting place. Oh! And there’s another one across the street! It’s so cute with the little lemons and blue sparkles and things. Awww.
Excuse: They’re phone boxes. Phone. Boxes. Who gives a shit? And if you think I am going to walk across the street to take a photo of another one, you can get bent. Also, it’s f**king hot! I’m dying over here.
Me: Yep. It’s summer! And I set my end date in the summer because I love summer. But it is stupid hot, isn’t it? Way hotter than it is supposed to be. I am not loving this either, actually. Maybe you’re right…
Wait! I know! We should take a little break in this café here and call the boy to see if he’ll let us not finish this walk. We’ll tell him it’s really hot outside and it’s a really boring part of town and we’re kind of over the whole thing. He’ll totally tell us we can go home and eat ice cream…..
Wait a minute, this café looks so familiar. Oh yeah, I went to one of these cafes on Day 13, the walk I never wrote about. Oops. Anyway, time for a break.
Man that soup was tasty! Now to call the boy and have him tell us we can go home.
Oh shit. He said no, “you have to finish this walk”. God damn him. Ok. Well, we’ll get him later. *fist shake* But for now we keep on walking I guess.
Excuse: See? You didn’t post about Day 13 (or those six other walks when you ran away to Utah), so you already haven’t finished the project, which means we can quit now. Also, speaking of other people, your parents are in town, they flew here from America to spend time with you, and how have you thanked them? You’ve taken a whole day out to walk in a hot, boring place instead of having them buy you cold cider and ice cream cones. Wouldn’t you rather have cold cider and ice cream cones? You could if you left now and found them…
And so it went for most of the day. At some point the excuses started getting tired (they do tend toward laziness), and I learned I could distract them with places that were genuinely interesting enough that they were too busy to talk.
There were only running at a low murmur when I was soaking up the scenery at places like the King’s College campus behind Great Maze Pond Road…
…or when I took a moment to appreciate the view at Guy Street Park.
They got even quieter when I got closer to the Shard (as close as you can get to the Shard) and looked up the length of it after 63 days of watching it loom in the distance. This building had always been a marker of where I was going and I was suddenly there. There wasn’t much the excuses could say about that.
But when I caught my first glimpse of Tower Bridge (the start and end point of this project) not so far in the distance, the excuses knew they had officially lost. They went quietly packing and I was quite happy to watch them go.
Seeing that bridge was when I knew I would finish this project. I felt such a rush of excitement that I can’t even express it in words. It was a whole-body reaction and it overrode anything the excuses could possibly have come up with that point. It made all the struggle worth it. It made me feel victorious and free and able.
As you know, I am speaking from the future (how does she do that?) and I have already finished this project so there’s no plot twist here. From the future I can tell you that the excuses have not left entirely or else you would have read this post weeks ago. But the ones that remain are greatly diminished and a few, like the ones that say I am the girl who doesn’t finish anything, are gone for good, because I got out there on the next walk and finished the shit out of this thing.
I’ll see you at the finish line!
Quick update from the future: now that this project is finished, I’m off on another adventure! Keep in touch on my new blog at Three Miles an Hour. See you there!