Life ..

August 30th, 2015, 12pm

It was 21.7°C with few clouds. The breeze was brisk.

Tomorrow, I turn 32.

The other day I went to a fitness class. The kind that is attended almost entirely by women and which has a certain aesthetic. It’s clean. Perfumed. Orderly. The exercises lack creativity but are high on repetition. They always make me feel as though I have gone there to perform a specific chore. Not gain a skill, not entertain myself, not play, not relax. I am there to exercise. To put my body through a series of movements within the confines of a neatly rendered environment so that it too may fit a certain mold.

I scanned the class and felt skeptical.

“Is that the instructor?” I heard one girl say. I looked over my shoulder. Bright pink hair band. Very nicely coordinated work out clothing. Lulelemon? I sneered to myself, only because I can’t afford their clothes (and because, about a month before my birthday I always become a bit of a cynic). I followed her line of sight to find the instructor, also very neatly attired, cheerily addressing another student on the other side of the room. She was a woman in her mid twenties. She wasn’t thin. You couldn’t see her muscles and she wasn’t flashing washboard abs.

“She’s fat,” The girl’s friend said.

It hit me then that we often use the word “fit” to describe a certain body type when in fact active, fitness oriented people all look quite different. We assume thin, muscular people are all fit and that anyone else who isn’t isn’t fit. Even if they work out more, eat better and do all the things “fit” people do. Fit is a lifestyle, not an aesthetic and yet we so often confuse the two.

I should have said something but I just eavesdropped and then went through what was inevitably a repetitive, mindless work out set to equally mind numbing fast paced music. Afterward we all sprayed out mats with grapefruit scented cleaner and filed out of there like automatons.

(See, this is how birthdays make me feel, as though I am trapped in a system of which every source of minor irritation is a symptom of my entrapment)

Here’s another:

On Friday I went to see a documentary about Southern Sudan. It was the product of a French writer and director and as such was predictably nebulous, in an artistically deliberate sort of a way, and depressing. It was short on facts and high on moments ripped out of context. I’d still recommend it though, but maybe not at the end of a long week in a small dark theatre with poorly graduated seating.

After the documentary I had dinner with a young co-worker. I was too tired for drinks or anything else after the meal and so announced I was heading home. She told me she was going to walk to the Cal Train station via Market street. Despite myself, I paused.

Here was I, the woman who never let the night stop me from walking wherever and whenever I wanted, regardless of country. For me it has always been an important if foolhardy act of protest that has proved, at least in the isolated context of my own life, that the night is not as terrible as I have been told it is. And yet.

On the way to the theatre pretty much every crazy man we passed had leapt out at her and found something bizarre to say. As I have aged I have vanished a little from the minds of the crazy men on the street, which despite the other things that might mean, has meant a little bit of peace. I had forgotten how intense it could be and the vicarious reminder made me want to stop and tell her to be careful.

“Are you sure?” I asked, wondering if I had a duty to do more for her than I ever would have wanted for myself.

She nodded resolutely and I swallowed the things I had promised myself I would never say. And yet I lingered, on that corner, watching her bright blonde hair disappear into the chaos of Market street longer than I would have if she was older or if she was a man of any age. It angered me, this automatically protective feeling, because it was that feeling I had railed against for so long.

I’m getting old I thought, and then checked my calendar. Happy (almost) Birthday?

Porter, Craig, Samuel, Santiago and 11 others said thanks.

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Dani Z

The hardest thing about getting older is realizing that I might, in fact, be a minor character in someone else's story. (I keep changing this bio. I'm not sure I'll ever nail it)

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