I've worked out for years, played tennis, jogged, practiced Yoga -- all the stuff. But working out became a matter of life and death after Paul died. Fortunately, just before he died I joined a new gym where I didn't know anyone. I was able to come and go as I pleased, do my workout, get some relief from the pain, and leave. And, that routine became my savior. Instead of slowing down as I got older, I find myself working out more than ever. I still need the physical outlet that turned into a way to balance my emotions and help me deal with my grief. I wrote this next poem very early on.
Making It Hard
The bright room is almost full.
All four walls of mirrors reflect women and men
In baggy shorts and sleek black tights.
The music is so loud
The woman in front of me stuffs ear plugs in her ears.
Lisa G says, “work from the core,
Your workout relates to your real life.”
I want to get on with it.
I don’t come here at 6 a.m. to listen to a lecture.
The neon sign on the wall says, “sweat,”
And that’s what I want to do.
The woman behind me complains.
I don’t know her name, but here she is every week
Always in the same spot, always complaining, always in black.
Black tights, black sports bra, black thong leotard,
Black headband on her head of black hair.
Even her lipstick looks black.
A drill sergeant in baseball cap and high-top aerobic shoes
Lisa begins her litany
“If it were easy, everyone would be fit,” she shouts
“Don’t come here and expect it to be easy.”
She doesn’t know my name. I like it that way.
I like the feeling of being anonymous here
I don’t know anyone and no one knows me.
No one knows about Paul, that he died
Or any other thing about me either.
Being anonymous is a benefit
It keeps me in shape, calms my mind,
Gives me the space to be myself.
It’s a mini vacation from the horrors of my life.
So, I thank Lisa G
For getting me moving,
For making it hard,
For making it hurt,
For showing me how to
Trade one pain for another.