Tuesday, December 29, 2009

In someone's arms

You wake up in a fog that can only be described as home, if home was still that place you would never escape and you wonder about language, if we’re always trying to create what could never be, will we ever? You are walking, you are walking in the opposite direction from usual, not uphill but down and you’re surrounded by other forms of desperation but you’re trying to focus on the sign that says the park is only open from 1 to 3. 1 to 3. The park is only open from 1 to 3.

Can we really call this a park if it’s only open from 1 to 3? This guy says you can take my picture if you give me $20 -- I’m not taking your picture, you snap, meeting him on his level but then turning back to smile. On block 6 ½, someone wants to take your picture, he’s from LA, he makes a fashion coloring book. You smile, pose -- you like the attention, it puts you in a good mood. What’s your name, he says, and he squeezes your hand hard, even though it’s just your loose wrist underhanded to avoid that gesture of manliness he still squeezes.

I might use you, he says.

How many people will tell you that when you start something new, something new for your body, sometimes it hurts but it gets better. They are not listening. Or maybe you’re not saying it clearly enough. You are rehearsing for the next person; the next time you will anticipate, you will start before.

Hilary prefers to watch the news because she’s a visual person -- wait, you think, I’m a visual person. The architecture; the architecture of bodies marching. There are no more bodies, there is only blood: this is the news. A man runs from the guns with a baby, this is how small a baby is, a baby in his arms. A baby cannot run, a baby cannot become architecture, not even in this man’s arms without breath you know this baby.

You were looking for a gym with a chlorine-free pool; you were looking for years, for years you were looking and now you’ve found the closest it’ll get, there’s still a small amount of chlorine but mostly salt. You are nervous, nervous because you’re entering a gym and gyms are stressful. You are nervous because this gym is so posh.

You are only going to swim one lap, one lap so you don’t hurt yourself but you’re already making plans, plans for two laps or three or four or five; you are making plans to get better. The pool is not as warm as you thought it would be. The area between your shoulder blades hurts, and how do you get out without pushing your body up on your hands, that’s the only way. When you get out, you’re shivering.

You go into the steam room, crowded with bodies but everyone looks down. They are not looking, they are looking down. This will help, this will help with the pain between your shoulder blades. You went dancing last night, and there wasn’t any smoke, at least not inside -- you still couldn’t breathe, you felt your nostrils closing from the smoke outside but you woke up feeling okay. Actually you woke up feeling energetic, knowing you would crash but appreciating the energy anyway. You thought: today is the day for the pool, it will change my habits, my habits are what give me pain.

After the steam room, you take a cold shower and then you go upstairs to the lounge, a gym like this has a lounge where it’s quiet and you can stare down below at the street. You feel so calm, maybe it was a good idea until you’re back home, how many blocks is that? Fewer than tomorrow’s eight, but you take the bus because you’re carrying your bag and when you get home there’s more pain: in between your shoulder blades; your shoulders; your arms: that twisting and burning in your tendons. Maybe this is what it means to feel better: when you feel worse you know. Please don’t tell me it’s okay.

There is the bed. There is the bed and there is sleep. There is the bed and there is even sleep that feels like rest and then there is a new day that feels like that baby in someone’s arms, running.


kayti said...

Was the pool helpful?

mattilda bernstein sycamore said...

No, unfortunately -- not at all, only more pain -- it was awful and depressing!


kayti said...

Sorry the special pool only made things worse. That is awful and depressing. Years of searching for nothing

mattilda bernstein sycamore said...

I know -- it's so sad, but I am going to try a few more strategies, just in case...

Love --