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What’s that on your shirt?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

[Teresa and Areceli are in the third grade, Teresa lives next door to me]

Teresa: Hola, Tía!

Me: Hola, Teresa!

Araceli: Hola Tía! [coming in for a hug]

Me: Hola, Areceli, pero cuidado, estoy sudando mucho! (Hello, Areceli, but careful, I’m sweating a lot!)

[gives me hug anyway]

Teresa: Por qué, tía? (Why, teacher/aunt/older-person-of-respect?)

Me: Fui a trotear, por eso estoy sucia. (I went running, that’s why I’m all dirty).

Teresa: [pointing to my spandex pants] Esto debe estar al inverso. (This should be inside out).

Me: No, creo que está bien así. (No, I think it’s right this way.)

Araceli: [pointing to wet patch on my shirt] Qué es? (What’s this?)

Me: Sudor.  O moscus. (Sweat. Or snot).

[she recoils away in genuine disgust].

Teresa: Mire, tía! [starts dancing] (Look!)

Me: Qué bueno!  Ya, chau chicas, nos vemos! (Wow! Okay, bye girls, see you later!)

Teresa y Areceli: Chau tía!

That’s right: in the midst of singing “Head Shoulders Knees and Toes”, educating myself about invasive species in Patagonia, and becoming a professional pencil-sharpener (i.e. teaching kindergarden), I’ve returned to one of my old friends, running.  I stopped in May after I sprained my ankle, and tried running for a week in June but it made my ankle worse.  Tuesday, I went back.  I felt awkward as I left the house in my spandex and fleece vest.  I cruised down the hill in anxious excitement, and then my body caught up with me: Um, you haven’t asked me to do this in awhile!  But I got in a good sweaty 30 minutes and afterwards, I felt proud and strong and clear, like a freshly erased whiteboard.

August has been busy in terms of work (as illustrated in first paragraph), but even more so in emotional work.  I dream of plates in Ipswich.  A first grader stops by to invite me to his art class exhibition.  I talk with my grandparents on Skype, in Maine with my parents, who are there for the first year ever without either daughter.  Miriam scolds me for going out in wet hair when I go to her store to buy butter.  Every lapse in my Spanish is excruciating because What if this is it?  This can’t be it, but then, what?  As I ask myself questions about next year, I find myself asking, What do I want? and What makes me happy? in bigger ways than ever before.

Running helps keep my heart and mind here with my body.  I get little reminders all day — sore calves, sore thighs, piercing shin splints.  It sounds painful, but really, it feels a little bit like home.  It’s incredibly depressing to think about what makes me sore now as compared to my fitness level in college, but here’s the point: right here, right now.  And when I’m out running a few times a week, it’s also harder to forget how enormously beautiful this place is.  I don’t have big ambitions about getting in great shape this spring (hear that?  spring?); I just want to feel healthier, to be more proud of my body, and most of all, to just be right here.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. David Russell permalink
    Friday, August 19, 2011 5:45 am

    I like the title. When I first saw it it made me wonder what the post was going to be about. Ah, the curious little ones! And what to do next? Big question. Exercise does help one feel “proud and strong and clear,” perhaps “like a freshly erased whiteboard.” I’m about to seek that feeling myself in an exercise class here!

  2. Friday, August 19, 2011 6:50 am

    Have fun, Dad — I’m jealous!

  3. sally johnson permalink
    Tuesday, August 23, 2011 12:04 pm

    Just back from a lovely long weekend with your folks in Maine. We spoke of and missed you and alice…and Dan and Steve. Where do the years go? I pulled my hamstring running which is the second time now in a short time, so someting is amiss. bummer indeed. nice to hear you are running again a bit. it does feel so good. when it feels good! we had corn and blueberry pie thinking of years gone by. Geoff and I bought lobster to take home to Steve and fresh corn and our house guest made a yummy blueberry cobbler. Feels like fall here yesterday and evenings. sun was goodto us all weeeknd. lovely long kayak together and picnic, of course! como no?!
    keep them blogs coming!

  4. Tuesday, August 23, 2011 1:29 pm

    Sally, so nice to hear about your time in Maine! The dock, blueberry pie, corn on the cob, kayaking, all of our traditions. It makes me happy to know that you are enjoying Harpswell for me! = )

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