On Running

Awareness of my body is usually accompanied by dread. As with public speaking, confrontation, or anything else requiring antiperspirant, I tend to project my most maliciously judgmental thoughts, fears, and feelings about myself onto the collective conscious of my audience. Some of my most agonizing memories are of moments when I was most aware of my physical self. It’s as if my body is a drunk friend at a party, who everyone knows I invited, and is slurring in people’s faces, “Yess, weyare old pals. Weyare like thissss. W’go waybak.” And although we’re not the same, by association we are. There was the time my body knocked on the bathroom door and popped his head in while I was taking a bath with my younger brother. “Don’t you know you’re too old for this shit?” he said. “Has it seriously not occurred to you yet? What are you, six? Seven? Get outta the tub and take a shower like a man.” Or one summer when I was at the YMCA and saw that a lifeguard (and here I’m not so sure if my memory is accurate or if it’s a self-constructed myth in the narrative of my personal shame) had a chain linked between his pierced navel and nipple. All of the sudden I became aware that I had nipples, too—and they were exposed. “Everyone!” my body called out. “Look, he’s got nipples!” And then of course 2000 through 2004, the years in which puberty burned brightest. Even today, I take off my shirt at the pool or the beach with a feigned nonchalance that I am still crafting. It does seem sort of surprising then that I would find pleasure in something I once stuck a finger down my throat to avoid doing in gym class (without success)—running.   Continue reading