I remember, as a kid, looking forward to the annual neighborhood summer picnics. The whole community from around the lake seemed to be there; parents, children, grandparents. It was like a family reunion, but everyone's families were there. After you had your portion of burgers on the grill and soda on tap, the games began! The field races were first, then the swim races in the lake. I was no athlete but that didn't stop me from giving it try. The top 3 winners got a ribbon with their name scribbled on it. That was enough to motivate me! Sign me up!
The Potato Sack race was one of my favorites. Just you and a bag. The challenging game for me was always the Three-Legged Race. Mostly, because I couldn't do it alone. I had to partner with my older sister, who is naturally stronger and more agile than I. As we tied the ropes around our legs, I knew my life was in her hands. She was always a determined girl. Strong and focused. Truly, a get-it-done, no-one-can-stop-me kind of personality. Admirable traits. Can't say I mirrored that as a kid. I was the more cautious, gentler type.
On your mark, get set, GO! The race began and so did our eternal journey to the finish line. My sister took off like a race horse, seeming to forget that I was attached to her body. I tried to get in tempo with her pace, but her legs seemed to stretch farther and move faster than mine.
"COME ON, VALERIE!" she yelled.
"I'M TRYING!" I yelled back.
We just could not find our rhythm. Other partners moved effortlessly passed us. They looked experienced and skilled. "How do they do that?" I thought, as I suddenly felt myself twist and hurl to the ground.
"Oh Gosh, Valerie! Stand up! We're never gonna win." my sister snapped. "Look people are already crossing the finish line!"
I wanted to win as much as she did. But, I was weaker than her. She had strong legs for the task. It almost seemed better to just untie the rope on our legs and just let her run to the finish line herself. But, of course, the rules wouldn't declare her a winner unless she had her partner with her. Together we lose, together we win. Either way, we were tied together.
I'm running a new race now with a partner that I tied the knot with almost 10 years ago. Some days, it feels much like the race with my sister. A tugging. A pulling. A wanting to work together, but not jiving with the other person's pace or rhythm. Having the same goal, but being unable to get there. Sometimes, it's me dragging him and demanding him to keep up. Other days, it's him wondering if I even have the strength or endurance to make it to the finish line. One thing I know for sure.
Together we lose, together we win. Either way, we are tied together.