Sunday, February 11, 2007

Walkin' Girl

photo caption: My Road

I walked today.

Outside. In the fresh air.

It wasn't far. Took me a little more than a half hour, but it's a start. S.O.L.'s had a rough go of it the last couple of years and she's let herself go. This would be a bummer for most people, but for S.O.L., it is a tragedy.

But, as with anything else I try out, I'm starting small. We have a 2.5 mile, single-lane mostly dirt road between us and the rest of the world and my husband, who is usually very diligent about working out every day, is using it for his gym. It's a good substitute for the gym, minus the spandex and the small towels in the locker room and people waiting to use your machine. And you can't beat the view. He usually goes for an hour, which is like 20 minutes down the hill and the rest of the time climbing back up.

I've been thinking about joining him. I don't know why I haven't gone yet, except for the million excuses I've collected inside that part of my brain that would rather sit in the same spot forever than move.

I'm so out of shape that when I rushed my dog to the vet hospital recently and had to carry his 26-pound self up a small flight of stairs, I thought I was going to have a heart attack. I made it to the elevator, got in with the poor pooch who I gently placed on the floor and then I bent over like a drunk at the end of a long night, sure I was going to puke on the floor. For an hour afterward, my heart kept pounding in my chest, more from panic than the output of energy. Can we all say "last straw"?

Those of you who know me, understand how important staying in shape is. The name S.O.L. was not chosen out of thin air (no pun intended) and we'll we talking about that in future posts. Suffice it to say that S.O.L. has survived a lot of shit to get here and it is not a stretch to say she's lucky to even be alive. Every day I abuse my body is diminishing the journey it took to get here, and if that sounds like guilt, well you won't get an argument from me.

It's been raining for a week and today when I woke up, the sun was out, so S.O.L. got on her (very) cool silver Nikes and got out the iPod and set out down the road. It was an easy trip down to the neighbor's house, which is maybe a quarter mile.

This part of the road is lined on one side by thick woods and on the other -- through a wire fence -- by a sprawling view of neighboring vineyards. The rain, after a very dry (and very beautiful) winter so far, has turned a browning landscape into a sea of bright greens -- spring is here early in Wine Country. The smell is of wet mud and damp wood, and angry skunks and that singular scent of growing things pushing up through the moist ground.

Halfway down the first hill, I spot a dog through the fence. He's big -- a smaller version of a Great Dane with the colors of a Doberman, like he's been put together by a mad scientist. His head is too big, his legs to thin, but he's staring at me with a look of faint bemusement. At least that is what I imagine. I stare back as I walk by and suddenly he breaks into a sort of half-run and this ungainly animal cuts the most graceful gait you can imagine -- like a gazelle. It almost freezes time as I stop and watch him run. And then just as suddenly he turns for the rows of grapevines and is gone. The whole experience is so magical, so unexpected, that you're thankful to be here in the presence of the beauty of the outdoors. There is, you realize with a sudden taste of humility, a whole other world outside of the cozy confines of your house, the car and the town's coffee shop.

Ah, but there's that walk back up the hill that returns you to reality.

I did make it home, it was a slow walk, more like a trudge.

But trudge I did and tomorrow I will set out again. And the day after and the day after that.

It's time.


susie said...

Yay you!

Undercover Black Man said...

Wish I could get back in the walking habit. In '01, I was walking 5 miles a day, all over the Westside... and 20 pounds melted off of me like magic. I slept better, I ate better... I've still got all the skinnier pants I bought when I thought I was hot shit.

Do that stuff, girl.