Pounding the Feet

I'm running again. Thrice in the last four days. Up (or, often, around) the big hills of our neighborhood, under the pink canopies of blossoms. And before you think it sounds romantic, let me assure you, it ain't pretty. Imagine (or don't, please don't) my hulky frame jouncing and bouncing in a too-small tank top and cropped pants, sweating like the dickens ... you get the idea. People pass me. Not just svelte figures with swinging ponytails. But old men. Old women. Dads pushing strollers at a leisurely pace. Frogs. Snails. Two-year olds with polio.

I used to run a lot--several times a week for an hour. I'd listen to a whole episode of This American Life, doubling over laughing when it was funny, little tears mixing with pouring sweat when I was moved. But that was in Mississippi. And since then my health has made it impossible. It's only now, coming out on the other side of all that, that I realize just how impossible it was. Running takes a lot of energy. Not just pounding the feet, but getting out of bed in enough time to do it, putting shoes on the feet, gearing up to feel humiliated by my creeping pace and not care. Not to mention the winter. I don't get people who run outside in winter.

Anyway, today I ran by a bus stop. I was nearly home, Bjork was on the ipod, I was feeling good. "Who cares what I look like when I run?!" I was thinking. "I'm healthy and happy!" I was thinking.

This little old Asian woman sitting on the bus stop bench looked at me and her face lit up into this huge bemused smile. Who knows what she was thinking. She didn't say anything. For all I know, she could have been remembering a particularly jolly episode of Full House. But I tell you, to me she looked EXACTLY like she was thinking, "Whoa, even the big American girls run. Look at that tummy bounce!"

I don't think I could ever flip someone off. It's not in me. But I must say that as I passed this woman, I found it comforting to touch my thumb to my middle finger, marking it, readying it, just in case.


Annie said…
Deja, don't worry, I'm sure she was just remembering some of Uncle Jesse's hijinx. I still burst into spontaneous laughter sometimes when I think about him constantly talking about his hair.
Keep up the good work!
Amara said…
That's how I used to feel every time I started back up after having a baby. I just figured --Screw all of them --I'm doing what's best for me! The lady was probably just proud of you like a surrogate mother -anyway. It was hard for me to run past houses of people I knew in my neighborhood. I was always thinking they were peeking out the blinds at me.
belann said…
Svelte will return. You will see. Then you will appreciate the smiles.
Mike and Emily said…
Kudos to you, woman. Seriously. Sometimes I remember that time in our lives when we went to the gym and drank healthy shakes and did yoga with the boys in our living room. Then I think about touching my toes again and I grunt and get light-headed.
eden said…
good for you dej! that is so great. i'm also a paranoid runner. the fewer people i see while running, the more comfortable i am. i'm glad my dog doesn't judge me. (:

keep up the good work!
k. double-u. said…
I'm proud of you. Running is worth any look you might imagine you've been given.

I've actually sworn off running and decided to take up swimming. I'm not sure that walking around in a bathing suit is any better, but at least I don't have to wear my bathing suit all the way down the street.
Vegan Mothering said…
running is sort of exposing...i agree. i mean, it puts you in a vulnerable position.

my hubby always laughs when i run. he's amused by the way i, "run like a girl, it's so cute."
Bryson and Tara said…
I hear you, Deja. I have a sister who is a personal trainer, and who runs marathons for fun... I went on a walk today and came back sweating...

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