In an effort to mitigate the depressive episode I’ve been in for a while (and to try and take off a few pounds if I can), I’ve committed myself to going to the gym every other day. Nothing excessive; I’m hardly a gym rat, and I have to start with small, realistic goals here.
I go with Coombsie. In the morning. Pre-dawn. It’s really the only time that fits for us and our schedules. This is dreadful for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that I am an angry beastie in the morning. When I wake up and get out of bed, I usually have to go sit on the couch for at least 10 minutes, contemplating the horror of being awake. Then it takes me two cups of coffee before I can even handle putting on my makeup and getting dressed. It is a process for me, “waking up.” It is not that way for Coombsie. He is relentlessly, unpleasantly cheerful.
To manage this “every other day” thing, I absolutely have to have my sneakers and my gym clothes at the foot of the bed. If they are in the dryer, that is too much effort. If they are in a drawer 10 feet away from the bed, that is also too much effort.
Once I am dressed, I sit on the couch with my iPhone, my Kindle, and my headphones, because I also will not go to the gym if I don’t have these totems with me. I need music to blunt the savagery of being up this early. I need words to keep me from obsessing over how many calories I’m burning.
In the car, Coombsie makes small talk. To himself. Because he knows I’m not listening.
We arrive at our local Planet Fitness, where allegedly one can work out sans Judgement and with no fear of being “Gymtimidated.” Indeed, at Planet Fitness, “you belong!” I mutter terrible things about where I’d like Planet Fitness to “belong” while Coombsie bounds across the dark parking lot like a Labrador puppy, yelping “DUDEBROGUY!” while giving the thumbs-up to imaginary dudebroguys. The only thing that would make me happy, besides being back in bed, would be a sinkhole developing out of nowhere and taking the Planet Fitness down into its gravelly depths. “You Belong,” indeed.
Once I’m there, though, and fully resigned to my fate, it’s….just as fucking terrible. IT’S STILL DARK OUTSIDE. I heave myself onto an elliptical machine facing the bank of television sets. I can watch old-ass episodes of “Charmed,” the local news, ESPN…pretty much everything except what I’d LIKE to watch, which would be my cats slumbering peacefully at my feet WHILE I’M STILL IN BED.
I glance over at Coombsie, who’s already several minutes into his workout, and happily watching an old-ass episode of “Charmed.” There is no way I can convince him to take me back home. So I put on my headphones and prepare to grunt and lurch while simultaneously listening to my Pandora station and attempting to retain what I’m reading.
When I’m not reading utter trash (and Kindles are FAN-FUCKING-TASTIC for that sort of thing, because then nobody can see that I’m reading true crime), I’m currently shoring up my theological expertise, which I abandoned – oh – probably shortly after I graduated college and stopped studying religion for fun, because drinking my weight in skunky Rolling Rocks and engaging in “experimental theatre” became more interesting. And that was all rather liturgical in a boozy, rancid sort of way, if I really try and remember it. Anyway, I’ve plowed through all three of Nadia Bolz-Weber’s books, which were really good, and now I’m on to a couple of books that she recommended: The Year Of Living Biblically, and Meeting Jesus Again For The First Time. The latter has been promising so far; I’m hoping it won’t fall flat the way Rabbi Jesus did, because I really had to force myself to finish reading that mess of fantastical speculative…um…mess. “Historical Jesus” and the synoptic gospels were subjects I got really into as an undergrad. Historical Jesus & The Synoptic Gospels would be a good band name. Christ, I’m delirious.
So I’m reading about Historical Jesus, and listening to Alien Sex Fiend, and I’m still so pissed about being here at stupid o’clock that I don’t even think to be amused by this.
I watch the sun rise over the new police station they’re building right across the street. I wonder if, when construction is completed, there will be a coterie of hunky cops among our sweaty ranks here. Probably. As it stands, the Dawn Patrol here at Planet Fitness is mostly people like me and Coombsie, getting that cardio in before going to work. There’s a woman who is always here well before we arrive, and puts in at least 90 minutes. She works out with a ferocity that I think I might have had, at some point, between the Skunky Rolling Rock Theatre years and when I moved to this town to help take care of Coombsie’s mother. There were a couple of years where I was pretty fit. How did I do that? Can I do it again? I don’t know. I’m in my forties, I’m fighting this depression like it’s my job, and at this point I really kind of have to settle for “pretty good.” On all fronts.
I finish up, and go sit in the giant yellow hand chair, and contemplate the horror of not only being awake, but having been awake since before dawn, AND having worked out. Who am I?
I’m still working that out.