It happens, usually about ten laps in; I tear up and fight back a sobbing breakdown.
A deep breath and another lap and I’m OK again, counting, on this round, the number of bald men in the gym (seven).
I think, working through time on a bike, a treadmill, with weights and going ’round and ’round the track, that it all amounts to the longest walk of shame. I try not to think about the reasons I am here, that I’ve done this to myself and the payback that is the workout is just sweaty, painful penance and that someday, (soon, I hope) I will turn a corner and begin to feel stronger, thinner and somewhat more like the “me” of several years’ past.
I narrow my eyes and pretend not to clearly see the female weightlifter. How long did it take her to become that sculpted, that strong? On another pass her back is turned and I can take in an eyeful, from bulging shoulders to ropy calves. I briefly fantasize flopping, fangirl, at her feet, begging, “tell me how you did it.”
Of course I never would, never will.
Is it even possible to transform my soft, doughy self into anything that approximates the weightlifter? Is that what I want?
Another lap; what is this, my thirtieth? Overcome again, I seek familiar faces and transform those that aren’t into college friends, former co-workers and others who aren’t, couldn’t possibly be there, at the gym.