I found my gym after the ice thawed. I had been driving past the building with the pretty purple and gold lettering all winter—the building with the three-story ice pile in front of it. Just the other day, I realized it was my gym.
We used to bet on the ice-out date on lakes when I lived in New Hampshire. We would set up grids as if it were a basketball tournament, and each square had a dollar amount. If you won, it meant someone somewhere decided it was official, you could guide a boat across the lake from one end to the other without having the hull rip apart.
If I had bet on ice-out at my gym, meaning the date I would return, I would have put a different year than 2019 on it…perhaps 2025. That sounds rounder, more sturdy than 2019. But I am in fact rounder and therefore less sturdy than the last gym visit, so I felt compelled to try and do something drastic and climb my way into shape for garden season. Granted, I had all winter to do this, but really, Why?
When I checked in at the front desk, I had no gym card. I didn’t know I needed one. Since I last visited the system had changed from, “Hi, I’m here!” to the familiar faces, to, “Please scan your pupil and give us the secret password. Oh, and don’t touch anything if you’re sweaty, and never use your phone, and Welcome Back, it’s about time!”
Okay. Where to start? I passed two gals hollering to one another above the din of the machines. They were wearing French leotards while sipping iced mocha lattes and pushing their fake bicycles up an unending incline. No to the bikes. Then I noticed a young man dressed as a prize fighter – boots and all – skipping rope on the mats. Sweat spiraled off of him. Hey, what about the new rule?? No lunges and sit ups today. Finally, I came to the antique area of my gym–the place where people who look like me work out. It’s the wing where they keep old machines and mats (and customers) cordoned off from the pretty, youthful members. It’s always a sea of cotton t-shirts and old sneakers. It’s the place in the gym where we nod to one another knowingly.
Just like lakes in winter, there are days–in all seasons–when my writing freezes over. Like now. It’s all Dr. Zhivago around here. My words and thoughts have become encased in a tomb-like state just waiting for sunlight and warmth, waiting for ice-out. Going to the gym is a distraction, as are painting my nails and reading poetry. My desultory actions notwithstanding, I sit and wait it out; the ice, the freeze, the long winter, knowing that the water will ripple again and my words will cover the page like green will soon clothe the earth here in Maine.