thecorestories.com
A story about legs and limits.
One — huff — more — pant — lap — puff. One — huff — more — pant — lap — puff. It’s prime running season. It’s warm enough for bare arms and the faint beginnings of a sports bra tan, but cool enough for a brisk breeze whipped like egg whites around whisked ankles. More than half of my writing begins while I’m running. It’s not intentional — it just happens. It’s like getting my feet off the ground lets my head float a little higher in the clouds, where the lofty ideas are easier to reach. One — huff — more — pant — lap — puff. My shoes smack the sidewalk while my eyes scour the scenery while my brain starts making metaphors from every endorphin-surged sensation. I usually head west from my Williamsburg apartment, then jut to the right when I hit the waterfront, weaving in and out of the coastal parks. Across the river, the Manhattan skyline bursts up like a magnificent geode, the shiny combs of buildings crowded together, glimmering, small enough to seem graspable. While I feel like I’m flying, that view reminds me of rooted gravity; while I feel infinite and invincible, it reminds me that I am so very tiny, and so very vincible. I typically finish with a few loops around the track at Greenpoint’s McCarren Park. As I’m losing steam, I like surrounding myself with other panting people — fellow runners, racing circles around groups of kids playing soccer on the field in the center. Some jog slowly, chatting with friends, fanny-packs bouncing. Others stretch on the sidelines or do sweaty sets of sit-ups and push-ups. On the benches, elderly Brooklynites prop up their canes to rest their weary legs, tilting raisin faces towards the sun. There’s a persistent airy pop of tennis balls bouncing on the courts just a few feet away. “One more lap,” I was reciting silently to myself on an evening earlier this week, as I prepared to quit. One — huff — more — pant — lap — puff. I slowed and turned my head towards the playground equipment, where I spotted a stranger doing pull-ups from the monkey bars. His arms must have been thicker than my thighs, carved as stone, strong — sweat dripping, hands gripping. I would never have guessed, if I’d only seen him upward of his chiseled abs, that…