The problem with Monday morning spin class is that it’s difficult to talk.
Lest you’re unclear, what motivates my regular gym habit (as much as the need to offset particular passions for almond croissants and malty beer, and the happy accident that I genuinely like exercise) is, in a word: gossip.
Probably you are clear that I take pleasure in few things more than turning my personal problems into entertainment. For you, lofty readers, I attempt to deliver stuff that is polished, (sadly, sometimes tragically) censored, hopefully sense-making. The gals at the Blaisdell Y get the dirt: the raw play-by-plays and (occasionally) juicy bits.
And while the late-30 and early-40-something moms have a pretty hefty appetite for vicarious Single Gal Tales, it’s not a one-way street. Last week I found myself doing bicep curls next to a woman who I’ve seen outside a sports bra a grand total of one time (we ran into each other at the co-op), whilst getting the update on her marital counseling.
“I just had this big breakthrough about the way I approach intimacy!” she said.
I turned to her, breathlessly hoisting a purple pair of twelve-pound weights.
“You mean physical intimacy?”
I looked out at the gym, a blur of neon and blondish braids, and smiled. “I fucking love boot camp,” I said.
But back to Monday spin class, where, this week, I was on a bike beside my friend K. K is closer to my age, and for the year that we’ve known each other we’ve regularly floated the desire to meet for a drink. Maybe someday we will, but already she knows my life better than most close friends.
I had promised her a story, but the fetal-position nature of cycling was preventing much chat.
“I’m dying to hear the rest!” she said.
“I’ll tell you after,” I assured her. “If you want. But, you know, you can already guess how it ends.”
This is the part where I would recite my relentlessly reliable dating pattern, if not for that I’m pretty sure you know it too.
Okay fine, quick refresher: man pursues me. I take interest in said man because he’s (circle as many as may apply): stylish/intelligent/tall/builds things/reads poems/DJs/loves NPR/plays music/is bearded/writes absurdist horoscopes. 1.5-3.5 dates later, aforementioned man realizes that I am incapable of playing games/being casual, remembers whatever issue made him single in the first place (again, circle any): commitment-phobia/emotional scars/arrested emotional development/existential attachment to someone else. He panics. Flees. I am shocked, but also not. (Because: really?? And because: yup.)
I’ve been trying to come up with mantras–a genre in which, it turns out, I am pathetically unskilled. A sampling:
It’s his loss.
You know what you want.
If he doesn’t contact you he’s an idiot, and you hate idiots.
He’s not even your type.
(What is your type again?)
Stop comparing yourself.
A contributed the standby: You dodged a bullet.
A new Minneapolis friend, this gem: When boys blow, they really blow, hard.
Few things are more painful for me to admit to myself than that: how much I was able to distance myself from how I truly felt.
And amidst the disappointment and frustration, that is one piece of comfort and calm: that, at least, I know how I feel. That I’m (most mornings) living honestly, and with the kind of (attempted) self-understanding I denied myself not many months ago.
It’s not a mantra, exactly, but it’s something. And I’m holding on.