30 September 2014

Vignette for mornings, September 2014

Every morning, I leave to go to the gym between 5:50 and 5:55. I run up the hill, and depending how early I am, there are people milling about in front of the automatic doors, waiting to get in. I used to wait with them, but now I just keep running, add another three or five minutes on and come back after they have opened the doors. Whom do you want to talk to at six in the morning anyway.

I see the same people every morning, like the two old men who are having a chat on War Lane. There are young men sitting sometimes on the benches at the top of War Lane, drinking or smoking, either coming from or going to work. A teenager on a BMX bike whom I see every day now. Coming down the pavement, he scared me the first time.

In the gym, there is the same group of people, including one of the old men from the road who appears and stands in a dark corner of the functional workout space to do simple biceps curls, no one bothering to turn on the lights. There are middle-aged, middle-class men and women who are giving it a go, trying to get in shape because their GP told them, when they had that scare last year with the chest pain, that then needed to take some exercise. They plod along purposefully on the treadmills, looking out onto Lordswood Road, the sun starting to come up.

On Tuesdays through Fridays, there is a spinning class, filled mostly with women in their early thirties, and one older white  man, balding, who does biceps curls beforehand, and sometimes a middle-aged black man, with a gut. Another woman at the front plays loud music and asks every day if anyone has any injuries — no one does — and then shouts at them for a half an hour.

I stand in the back of the room, but turn around and face the wall, doing a cycle of functional exercises: thirty five seconds on, fifteen seconds rest. Burpees (3x), sit-ups with medicine ball (3x), press ups on hanging stirrups (3x), burpees (3x), planking (3x), dumbell lifts (3x), kettle bell throws (3x), and burpees (3x), or some mix of those things. I sweat all over my pad and wipe is up vigorously with paper towel because one of the guys — a guy with dreadlocks whom I also meet walking the kids to school and at gymnastics on Saturdays and at swimming class on Sundays or Fridays — told me that someone had complained about the Canadian in glasses not wiping his mat. I try not to think about anything, about the other people in the room, or who might or might not see me. Steve, the guy with the dreadlocks, tries to have a chat some times, but I feel awkward and silly and pathetic, sweating like a pig. A guy once said to me, 'Mate, it looks someone dumped a bucket of water on you.' Yes, it does.

I finish sometime after six thirty and run out past the workers waiting for the bus. Today, there was a guy with an energy drink and cigarette and hat. Very slim. I chugged past, the new me, the fat man in the deflated body. All my clothes reminding me that I am a fat man: they hang more spectacularly now, soaked and heavy like a flag on a pole. Here I am, swimming in the old me. I get home, take it off, make eggs, and sit in front of the iPad. Everyone will wake up eventually: I can hear Yoko showering, the girls' alarm clock squawking in Japanese. It's just a moment, I tell myself, this body, this life, this vocation. Every day you stand up and open the door and go out, is a gift.