Sarah Jane Barnett’s Home essay


Suffering is Optional

In this moving essay, Sarah Jane Barnett writes about womanhood, grief, and how running allows her to feel at home in her body.

I started running in my twenties. I’d never done any regular exercise, so my first attempt involved running the distance between two lampposts, and then walking to the next. The route I took on those first few runs was a loop starting from my parents’ house and out around the suburbs of my childhood. At the time I was essentially homeless. I was staying with my parents after my first marriage had ended, after my husband calmly said on the phone, ‘I don’t desire you any more.’ Looking back, I don’t blame him. I didn’t desire myself either. Dragging my body through the dark streets was the only way to numb the public humiliation of being discarded, to ease the shame and grief.


Full essay here. It is so very good. Excellent lure to get the book: Home: New Writing, published by Massey University Press, 2017.

PS If you break your foot on Queen Charlotte track and then walk on it for six hours to get out and then get back to running too soon and too fast – ah it all goes haywire, so watch for that. Walking is just not the same! Love your essay, Sarah!

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