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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Mrs. Elders

My eyes wander as my elbows meet my knees.  My bouncing feet shake my body, swaying me side to side.  My shoulders drop and my head swivels side to side as I reach down to drink my coffee.  As if a boxer dodging a punch.  My eyebrows raise at random times, as the skin on my forehead crunches together.  Thoughts pinch my brain, as I slide both hands up my face and down the back of my head, only reaching for my coffee all in the same fluid motion.  Smooth I move, patient I am not.  Someone just walked into the gym... My head turned fast as if I have been up for three nights.  Paranoid by sounds and people.  Uncomfortable and completely vulnerable.  A little head nod to the person who just walked in to train, duffle bag and all.  My quick glance of hello is followed by a glance at his gym bag, as my eyes move a million little clicks around the man as he walks to his resting bench. Old but sturdy, tired but alive. A lonely weightlifter with a lonely bag, make for a perfect couple.  A smile from memory, followed by an all to familiar pinch from my head that now turns my stomach as I lean further over my knees, making my elbows sting from the pressure of myself and a thousand skeletons I carry around with me scream with pain.  The best fix for the weight you carry, is the weight you lift.  I roar from my seat as a coach should, passion and fire spill out of my mouth, as my blood pumps through my body like the door opening to Maximus once he reunites with his family.  Love for the game, and love for my team keeps my feet bouncing up and down with a certain rhythm that no one could repeat.  Every athlete moves differently, every athlete must paint their own masterpiece. Every athlete must move to move, lift to make, and slam to succeed.  A simple whisper in your ear from your past demons can make you lift weight you never thought could be possible.  All this... I have been thinking while sitting in my small black chair in the middle of the gym.

A single sweat drop enters my eye ball.  I never blink.  Even though the pain is masterful, I keep looking forward at the rows of platforms that meet this wide open ocean.  Dust replaced with sand scurries over the wood creating a small clicking sound and a loud whistle from the wind meeting the wide open beach.  I still sit, now motionless from thought, and paralyzed from my surroundings.  The smell of ocean you can probably smell just reading this blog.  The cool air passing your body is refreshing but sad, as it passes you without any care in the world.  It's true, you can read without reading, just like the wind can pass without stopping.  You can lift without thinking just like the bar moves without trying.  The beauty of sport is so beautiful.

Two old teammates living in separate rooms in an a warehouse off highway 65 that lays between an old dead wood tree and Mrs. Elders home by the old church.  A small quiet town that unfortunately runs into an abandoned steel mill that has been shut down for a decade.  Jobs lost and hard time followed, now home to myself and my teammate who breath cold floors and bathe in showers of unanswered questions.  Bouncy balls thrown over and over against the walls of our rooms mix perfectly with the sound of rats that scurry behind the brown walls that we call shelter.  We leave during the day, unnoticed and blending in.  Lunch pail in hand, as the sound of beeping from the cash register finds a certain soothing feel to me and my friend as we ring people up before going about their lovely day.  Mrs. Elders came into the store with her Saturday blue dress and her white gloves.  Always a limp that seemed to come with a smile.  She shuffled along the isles as we both kept an eye to see if she needed any help.  I don't know why I did this, because she never did, I guess just keeping an eye on her was a natural instinct in some ways.  I was once heaving 400 plus pounds over my head, and now I have found myself looking after an old lady shopping for bread and blueberries.  Not such a bad thing since the next day she should be bringing my old teammate and myself some of the best blueberry short cake in the whole wide world.  My over sized fore arm hit my friends inflamed elbow as we cracked a smile before hanging our white aprons on the hook by where the shopping carts filled into line, and then started our walk up the grassy meadows, down the rocky bank that use to be where they lit the steel on fire.  I knew this because of all the black rock that cracked under our feet as we seemed to march not walk, to a song with nothing playing.  It was almost like we were re playing all of our old training songs in our heads at all times of the day.  And if one of us smiled it was definitely a missed lift followed with a little kid hissy fit.  Grown men throwing fits is always the best.  We approached the warehouse were we lived.  The front door already open, almost as if the old shut down world was awaiting our arrival.  Our eyes met...

Jon! my heart jumped out of my chest as Shankle shook my right shoulder.  I was back in the middle of the gym, same place I started.  My cheeks were drenched wet from my eyes never closing.  A nightmare...?  Or a great dream....?  I couldn't figure out which one it was.  I could still smell the ocean breeze, and I could still hear the beeping of the cash register.  My actions and odd behavior didn't seem to faze Shankle at all.  I couldn't figure out why.  You would think he would have asked me what was wrong, if I was alright, or what i was doing sitting in the middle of the gym staring at God knows what.  But nope... Nothing.  His mouth was moving, but I could hear nothing.  I was too busy analyzing the situation. Shankle has been to the same place I have been.  Shankle has been on the beach, in the store, and in the warehouse.  This was just a guess, but his understanding of the odd situation was too familiar.  Too at ease.  He then walked away. And I was once again left alone.

My breathing became heavy.  My eyes finally shut.  The sweat on my face dried as the wind from outside picked up.  The sound of the fan by the door made my wrists move in circles.  My body leaned back over the chair like a waterfall, as my back cracked at least six times. The crunches in my forehead smoothed like the dust on the platform.  The windmill began to move gracefully, as my arms cut through the air in fast circles like a jet flying over a baseball game.  My chin moved front to back, side to side, like the catch of the snatch, like the beauty of an athlete.  The black oil ran down my face and into my joints, passing over my skin and into my bones.  Oil to move, and muscle to improve.  Strength to build and speed to gain.  My Adidas shoes feel tight against my feet.  My eyes soon change from focused to fierce.  My body language turns from passive to aggressive.  Confident to cocky.  My blood, to Shankle blood. My skeletons behind me as I write ARNOLD down my arm.  My hook grip becomes tight like suffocation.  I am an athlete.  I must move to live.  Lift to love.  I am a prisoner of my own self.  My skeletons, lets lace our shoes and grab our belts.  Stand up from this chair.  My skeletons... Lets fight.

"My ears hear what others cannot hear. Small far away things people cannot see are visible to me.  The senses are fruits of a long time of longing.  Longing to be rescued, to be completed. I am not formed by myself alone.  I wear my fathers belt tight around my mothers blouse, and shoes which are from my uncle.  This is me.  A flower does not choose its color.  We are not responsible in what we have become to be.  Only once you have realized this is when you have become free". - Unknown.

I truly tried......but could not part.  You will see intensity like never before.  I am back.

Love for the sport 2016