Becoming Active is an Adventure
On my path to recovery from MMORPG overindulgence, I’ve taken the quests out of the game and into the real world. Of the greatest importance is losing the 30 pounds I gained in just one year of out of control gaming.
My new dailies are early morning runs. Early morning, because I have no idea how to run. I don’t know how or what about my breathing I’m supposed to control. I have to take frequent walking breaks. And, for the life of me, I can’t keep my god damned ear buds from falling out every three steps.
The fewer people that are around to judge me, the better.
To encourage me to get going, I acquired some new gear: ilvl150 ASIC’s Kayano-19’s.
Every bit as flashy and ridiculous as any raid gear I’ve ever seen.
But they’re comfortable and lightweight, mold to my feet. They’re like walking on air. All good things, all essential. You see, I’m approaching this running thing with some trepidation. I work as a waiter, and as I’m on my feet 100% of the day, it’s important that I don’t somehow break them and utterly ruin my life on the path to fitness. This happened when I ran regularly a few years ago with Vibram 5-Fingers, and I stopped running altogether.
I woke up at six o’clock, immediately equipped my gear and headed out for my run.
The sun was already up when I left, but the traffic light and I was gratefully alone on the sidewalks. I jogged through a nearby neighborhood and found myself more interested in exploring than exercise. There were signs littered along the way for a missing cat, and I used these as an excuse to pause and catch my breath. I found some paths I had never noticed before, weaving unconventionally between houses.
As I began to reach my limit and felt the beginnings of a side stitch pinch at my ribs, I saw the first person on my route beginning her day. A mother, preparing a car seat in the back of her minivan. She looked fit. She would judge me. I resolved to kick up my speed and soar past her so that I could slow down out of her line of sight, even though I was well on my way to collapsing already.
I was nearly in the clear, when I was shot in the back of a leg by an arrow.
At least, that’s what it felt like. I kicked and flailed, shrieking like only a gay nerd knows how. There was no stinger, so I’m assuming it was a wasp or some kind of uber hornet from hell that got me. I was certain that it was still around, waiting for the next opportunity to strike, and wildly swatted at the air behind me.
And then we made eye contact. I froze, mid-swat. The whole fucking world froze. All I could hear was my heart thundering as the mother and I engaged in a stare off. My mind raced. Would she say something? Would she laugh? She did neither. What could she possibly be thinking?
I think my heart hammered a hundred times in those three seconds before I regained my senses and ran.
I’ve never had a bad reaction to bee stings beyond the initial OMG WTF is happening right now! But this bee wasn’t fucking around. I could feel the venom pumping up and down my leg with every step. Two miles to walk home on this thing, maybe longer since I definitely wasn’t about to backtrack in front of that lady’s house again.
My leg had ballooned by the time I made it back to my apartment complex, every step a wince. All I could think about was kicking my leg up on the couch and not moving the rest of the day. There was still some distance to go. My apartment is located at the far north end of the complex, and I had just entered the south entrance.
Midway through the sprawling parking lots, I locked eyes with the cat I’d seen in missing signs earlier. We both stopped in our tracks and watched each other cautiously. Her long, smoky hair was ruffled and covered in brush. I began to call out to her when I realized I didn’t remember her name, or even if she was a her. I didn’t have the owner’s phone number. Naturally, there hadn’t been a missing sign in blocks.
“Stay right there!” I pleaded.
The nearest sign I remembered seeing was by my apartment. I hiked north, cursing every bee on the planet with each step. My building came into view, taunting me with all the comforts inside. The sign was posted on the walls of a garbage enclosure. There she was, in two photos: a siamese crossbreed with wide blue eyes, relaxed on a cat lounge, and sitting at a window. Coco. I saved the phone number in my cellphone and shuffled back to where I’d last seen the cat.
By now, the whole neighborhood was stirring to life. Soccer moms and businessmen in strapping suits streamed from the buildings to their cars. An Indian woman passed me, leading her band of children like ducklings. Coco was nowhere to be found. Everyone stopped to stare at me, this guy with a swollen leg limping back and forth through the parking lot, singing in his cat voice (that sounds a lot like Gollum), “Coco! Coco! Here kitty!”
Eventually, I spied her watching me from underneath someone’s truck. She didn’t think much better of me than my neighbors did. Wincing, I squatted down and offered my hand. This hurt my leg worst of all, so I resorted to sitting splay legged on the pavement while I called the number from the posters.
The man who answered seemed more annoyed that I was calling at six forty-five in the morning than he was relieved that I had found Coco. I told him I would stay and keep an eye on her until he got there, to which he replied, “I’ll be there eventually, I’m sure.”
When I hung up the phone, Coco was sniffing my fingers. Soon, I was scratching behind her ears and running my hand along the length of her back, plucking the brush she’d accumulated as I went. Gingerly, she tested my lap with a paw before climbing up and unceremoniously flopping down on to her back so I could reach the burrs in her belly. She purred in approval. Just like that, we’d become friends.
The loudest, most obnoxious, earth quake inducing motorcycle flew by on the main road. In a flash of gray and black, Coco rocketed up my shoulder, over my face, and disappeared. The tip of my nose dripped blood, and I gave the fuck up. Fuck running. Fuck bees. Fuck saving other people’s cats. I’ll stay at home, and watch TV, and stay fat forever.
Is this what active people do every day? Can every morning be such an adventure for everyone with chiseled abs and bulging arms? I can’t tell if this is the kind of life I’m looking for or not.
Over the next few days, my leg doubled in size to the point that I could no longer see my ankles. It’s a relief that my next two days at work involved lots of sitting around at our corporate offices, because it was nightmarish to put any kind of weight on it. It’s gone down, a week later, but still a little itchy. The missing signs for Coco have been torn down, so I assume they found her eventually.
I’m still working up the courage to go out for another run. If there’s one thing I do know: should I spy any motorcycles on my next run, I just might throw a rock.