My Own Private Idaho

My Own Private Idaho

My mother asked me yesterday if I ever get tired of telling my story or if it hurt to repeatedly tell the story of the worst days of my life. She and other people do not understand that I have gotten to the place where I can tell that story on my very worst days and it doesn’t hurt. I can tell that story because as I tell that story I not only know that I am touching other people, teaching them, and giving them permission to talk about their body slams, I am weaving in the coping skills to breathe through bone crushing pain. As I tell my story, it reinforces the skills I use and all that I stand for and believe in, but there is something magical about coming back to a place where I am simply Linda Leonard and the first question people ask me is, “Are you still running?”

I grew up in Oregon and Idaho and Idaho is where I went to school. My mom still lives on the same street I lived on all those years. There are still neighbors who remember a girl riding down the street standing on the purple banana seat of her bicycle. I have been in every house on this street selling something, babysitting, or visiting. The tree that was once much smaller than I was, towers into the clouds. When I run, I don’t have to think about it; my feet run steady and sure. I still know all of the short cuts to Bishop Kelly and I still could probably play the Notre Dame them song on a clarinet. The blue turf of Boise State, a school I once wanted to flee, makes me obnoxiously proud to be a part of. My loss doesn’t fit here.

While Phil and I met at the Mountain Home Air Force Base Swimming Pool and fell in love in ID, it is only a part of who I am. There is only one other place like that for me—Colorado. In those two places, people know my story, and if I wanted to talk about my journey, they would listen, but it is more than that. It is the stories about once putting real estate signs all over my high school property (I didn’t know it was illegal) and crashing the phone lines. It is about a swimming pool that I lived at every summer. It is about the jobs, the people, and the memories. When I go to CO or ID, it is about connecting over memories, over shared friends, and over a lifetime of connections—not just one moment in time.

Yes, my story and journey are mine. Yes, there are moments that hurt like crazy, but those moments are never in telling my story. Those moments come in my own private Idaho. Those are the moments that I hold close to my heart until I am ready to purge them through writing. For those that know me really well, they recognize that they should be asking about what I am not saying because they know that once I write about something, I am done with whatever it is that was on my heart. I can come back to ID, my place, and I can go for days, weeks, and months and not tell my story because I am just Linda, Linda the Runner Girl. I like it that way.

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