I spend my days watching people. Yes, I recognize that this sounds creepy, but I assure you, it’s nothing like that creepster watching kids at the playground that Netflix would turn into a documentary that goes viral. I watch with innocence and wonder, marveling and curiosity. I watch to learn how to live and breathe and write.
Years ago, I wrote about a jogger. He still jogs today, up and down my street, in the same outfit, and always at the exact time when I need a shot of hope. On the days when I wonder if making my bed even matters (monthly), if getting in my car and driving and showing up to grip the wooden barre will really change anything (weekly). On the days when I wonder how exactly people do the exact same thing every single day to build a life (daily). I see that I wrote about him four years ago, and this seems impossible. How does someone jog down the same street in the same outfit for four years, or more? That sounds like a lifetime to me.
This month, I met M(r)s. Jogger. (I use the word met loosely.) Years ago, I wrote about seeing Mr. Jogger walking at night with a dog and a woman, maybe a wife who dreamed of a bigger house around the corner. I’ve never seen her again. Now, there’s this M(r)s. Jogger, jogging independently from Mr., and let me tell you, she looks exactly the same as Mr.—a jogger who isn’t a jogger. She runs with both her palms out in front of her and facing up, like I see people at church doing to invite the invisible. Her hands flop. Her whole body bobs. She runs at inappropriate times, just like Mr., when it’s 102 degrees and there’s an air quality warning flashing in red on my weather app. They both don’t seem to notice they’re melting away in the middle of the day when the sun’s blazing.
If they ever see this, know that I mean well. I’ll even plan your wedding (I’m not a planner), if you aren’t already Mr. and Mrs. Know that you teach me about life, about showing up, about becoming.
A few years ago, I decided to become a runner, maybe because of the man jogging, or just because I lost control of everything in my life. Either way. I bought new blue running shoes and everything. Every time I went out (twice), I decided I had to become a runner every time. “Today, I am becoming a runner,” I shared on my Instagram. “I think I’ll become a runner again soon,” I told a coworker after. The thing is, I never really became. It’s hot, or it’s cold. The pavement is hard, the hill is too steep, my body aches already, why pile on more?
Or, usually, it’s too late to become something new. It’s a lie, yes, but it sounds so real that I believe it. If they ever see this, know that you give me strength to become something new, to break the rules, to run at inappropriate times in the middle of the road and not even notice or care.
Every morning, I stand by the coffee pot as it drips. I bend down to touch my toes, but can’t. Too stiff. It takes some breathing, inhale, exhale, up, down, and then I can do it. The coffee pot lets out its last steamy breath, I pour black heaven into my mug, wobble upstairs in my plush robe. I sit in front of my vision board, the one with pictures of an athlete touching her toes, palms flat on the ground. The one with words like whole and strength.
And I write about joggers and non-joggers and all the steps it takes to keep becoming, to one day say, I became. I write about how tomorrow I’ll learn all over again how to touch my toes.