Saturday was the day I ran out of excuses.
I had an errand to run in the vicinity, I had enough time. It wasn’t the perfect day for it, but favorable conditions never come.
I was going to rejoin the gym.
As a former gym rat (ex gym employee, ex fitness freak, ex road racer) I know this routine. That starting is hardest. That the people who are so intimidatingly muscled and fit and strong are commonly very nice, and when they do think of you, which is bloody rarely, they wish you well. (They themselves were beginners once, too.)
I have been both the fit one and the unfit newcomer, and I know both sides of this strange human dance.
But I felt intimidated and out of place just the same. It’s a been a long time since I ran 11 miles for fun, or trained with my friend who trains a local SWAT team, or stayed at the gym for 2 1/2 hours because I was having such a good time there.
I’m lucky, I come from a family of athletes (2 pros, one in hockey and one who played for the Steelers and went to Penn State on a scholarship), and I have the exercise crack gene. This means that once I get to a certain level of fitness and intensity of the workout, I pretty much get high as a kite, get a bolt of boundless energy that makes the rest of the day a breeze.
But on Sunday, I was just an awkward fat girl in jeans and a sweater, feeling like the new kid on the first day of school.
I walked to the desk, gave my free pass to the attendant, and waited on the next free salesperson to come give me the pitch. In a lovely coincidence, it was Dana, a friend from my former gym! Talk about being put at your ease!
I got the tour (sauna looks fabulous; I am a heat-seeking creature and dearly, dearly love saunas and steam rooms). Dana and I, who have six cats each, showed cell phone pics of our pets and smiled to each other, getting and liking each other.
So Monday I will be back at the gym. Shit and fuc, it has been a long time.
TEDx, unsurprisingly, was a watershed moment in my life. It’s because of TEDx that I ran out of excuses and had to own up to the fact that the life I always dreamed of is the one I wake up to, and the battle against my own ordinariness is well underway, waiting only for me to call the crew of my soul to the decks of my body and make this form I wear more fun to be in.
I have a new friend who dances ballroom. Back in the day, I taught East Coast swing and was learning foxtrot, waltz and cha cha. I took private lessons from a friend who was once a professionally ranked ballroom dancer, and together we could have cleared the floor anywhere.
I never stopped loving dance, but I stopped having time and breath and fitness for it, and just like dating and running and feeling beautiful and wearing clothes I liked and LIVING deeply and well, I put it on the shelf of things I could no longer enjoy, like a sick person puts life there, like a dying person puts life there.
In my 30s, hardly realizing what I was doing or how much I was giving up, I put half my life in the freezer. (The remaining half was a very good half though! My life is such that even just the half is quite satisfying.)
But then I did TEDx. And I had a rush of realization that sometimes what we must choke down, force down and swallow whole, fighting all the way, is that sometimes things go wonderfully. That sometimes the biggest dreams happen, unavoidable as a flower opening when the time is right, and no one is harmed, and everyone is transformed, and afterward your mind is reeling at your own good fortune. And all your excuses for something being not quite as good as it was, they all fail.
Because sometimes the bad thing comes, and it overtakes you, but sometimes the good thing comes, and it too is not to be denied. Sometimes the good thing happens, too.
Lately I have been like a snake choking down an elephant of good fortune. I can barely fit it all in, barely comprehend it all, and yet eat it all I must. Poor me.
I find myself on the verge of graduation, with a transformed life. With the coolest job in town. And the coolest friends in town! And being asked to serve on the boards of the coolest organizations in town (oy). And my life spread out before me like a corn maze on a beautiful fall day, where every choice is right.
I have run out of excuses to hide from life anymore, which is what I had been doing. I am the one who did not go out to lunch with someone once because I liked him too much, and didn’t want to embarrass myself (or him) with the stuttering nerves I get sometimes, as an introvert with rather intense ideas and feelings. Yes, that was me. In retrospect it seems insane, though heaven knows It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time, to the person I was then, though her sorry logic just embarrasses me now.
I really don’t want to be her anymore. Scared to dance, scared to live, working so hard for the future that the present is lost in the shuffle. I’m like a woman who gained weight after a pregnancy and clings to the baby-fat excuse 11 years later. My life stopped being bad a long time ago.
This year, this summer, it kept me up at night with how good it was, and how amazing it could be if I took all the lost bits of it out of storage and decided to walk through all the houses of life, instead of hanging out in the library all day trying to convince myself I was having a good time, and had enough, and was OK being in the library all day and all night.
Dear sweet life, I have so much to figure out, but I am coming. Thank you for waiting.
I am coming.