20 February 2013

A fat man in shorts

I have been saying that things come together piece-by-piece when you move abroad; all of our things arriving by boat this last week was a pretty big piece. I feel like I am becoming myself again after all the disorientation and adaptation to the new climate, new food, new job, new everything. Whoever I was in Milton Keynes got lost temporarily in the move. I'm even wearing different clothes--my fashion style (which I was mildly proud of) completely erased by the humidity. I wear shorts now because it's just too damn hot for jeans. I lamented to my dad about the potential of the loss of style when he visited the UK in November: who the hell wears shorts; what sort of personality will I have in shorts. He looked at me as if I had lost my mind and I changed the subject.

As the boxes opened and our possessions came out, one possession, one that I knew was coming and one that would tell me something I didn't want to know, found its way onto the living room floor. The scale, which ran my life for much of the last three years, called out for me to stand on it, knowing that I had also betrayed another important part of my personality: my meticulous care for my own physical welfare. I cowardly avoided it for much of the afternoon, but eventually the truth was too tempting: how much damage had these three months of stress eating done.

A fat man in shorts: this is not who I want to be. In disgust, I pulled on my running shoes Sunday morning and then Monday and then Tuesday, determined to not be that guy, the one whose weight ticks up when he turns 30, the guy who gives up and jokes about being slower, softer, and less determined. And so I set out now, day after day, into the early morning darkness, before the first call to prayer, when the roads are quiet and manageable. I have no idea where I'm going, running through the backstreets of Kajang, but I follow streetlights and, when the call to prayer starts, the first one, sometime between 6 and 6:20, I can orient myself: once I know which direction the mosque is, I can run home. Don't miss the metaphor here.

Control of your body is an important theme in religious life, and one that I am constantly drawn back to despite my own lack of faith. Running and fasting: they make me feel so strong, so in control. Nothing rules you. When you run, particularly in the morning, you are completely alone with your thoughts and completely empty; you can go for days without stopping. And so, just like that, the healthy version of me begins to return: I update my mapmyrun profile to Kajang, Malaysia and begin to have difficulty sleeping again as I imagine the next morning and the next run. What will I find over the next hill.