How Do You Know

It’s 85 degree heat index in San Diego, which in dog years, means it feels like 112 to those of us in Seattle – in other words, “perfect” weather to go running. Michael justifiably ignores me when I tell him two minutes in that I’m done. 

As sure as I am that one of us is going to collapse from heat exhaustion (or heat stroke – for some reason, I can never tell the difference), we’ve done it to ourselves, waiting so long to head out. Still, it’s something we both want to do. Our earliest days together were centered around the long conversations we had while running and this is our anniversary so it’s sort of a tradition. We even talk throughout the run, just like the old days though some of my conversation this time involves topics like, “are you sure we’re not done?” and, “go on ahead; I’m having trouble keeping up.” – neither of which I ever would have said before. 

Two miles in, I finally have to the courage to talk about this crazy blog idea and the fact that I already bought a domain name and have been spending the past several days wrestling with technical details of making it work (why this is hard is a long story – I’m plenty technical so this shouldn’t be that difficult). This doesn’t exactly surprise Michael because he knows full well how weird my brain is. Somehow he still likes me and I swear there are lots of days I’m not really clear why that is, but I’m always grateful for it. 

By the time we finish the run and various stops for photo ops along the way, all I want is to rehydrate and get out of the sun. Where we used to sometimes stop for a beer together after our runs to prolong the conversation time, our routine these days typically includes Starbucks afterward on weekends and other days off. We figure there is one nearby, only we don’t know quite where it is relative to where we are, which is the miniature labyrinth otherwise known as Seaport – where of course there are more photo ops, but no real shade midday. 

Normally, I’d participate in some of the picture-taking but this is difficult to do when my field of vision is sprinkled with spots and I’m pretty sure I’m going to pass out. So I wander from one nearly shady spot to the next until Michael proclaims the Starbucks is over that way and we start to head in the direction of iced tea lemonades and passable pastries. 

Not too surprisingly (to us, anyway), at one point where the choice is to to get there via this crosswalk or that one, my brain demands that it be that one. It has thought very carefully about these things in the past few fractions of a second, done the calculus over available shade, distance and how I’m feeling – and has determined there is no earthly justification to reasonably consider any other way. 

As a slightly more rational human being who these days understands that there may be other perspectives in the world, I attempt to speak up in a way that allows for that possibility here. Michael, being the uber-reasonable guy that he is (not to mention having spent so many years understanding the quirks of my thinking) indicates this same choice is his preference as well. Of course it is. And he knows I know this, so laughs that I could even question it. 

My brain does indeed know full well that his choice would be similar to mine. “But how do you know for sure?” it demands to know. 

Because I know Michael, I know he understands how I think and that this matters to him. 

“Sure, but maybe he’s changed!” 

What, in the past five minutes?! 

“Maybe! You don’t know! We should check!” 

It is in this moment that I fully appreciate the beauty and the value of considering my brain an entirely separate entity. It is powerful but it is a wild animal version of powerful, unpredictable at times because it’s using its own wild animal logic. Except that they are sometimes sources of new information not previously considered, it doesn’t care what other people think or want. And despite its clearly deeply emotional leanings, it demands logic and being informed. While both I and my brain could have been happy (enough) taking the other crosswalk, that would only have been possible with some forewarning. 

I suspect Michael also found good reason in that moment to treat my brain as a separate entity. Or perhaps he’s just secretly drawing up papers. I still wonder sometimes how it is that he loves me but I know that he does and that’s what matters most. Even my brain understands this too. 

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