The fat ache of loss and failure greets my awakening; a feeling that there is no reason to get out of bed. My mind drifts to those long spent efforts of the past; all those attemps to kickstart an elusive feeling of wellbeing, the few times I succeeded in achieving temporary relief, receiving a fleeting glimpse of belief in better things.
I remember running until my shins ached, battling with my resistant lungs when they threatened to explode from my chest, those rasping breaths as saliva filled my mouth, the collapse onto unresisting grass, the molten metal burning inside me before cooling to a comfortable temperature, dispersing, leaving me spent, but with a hint of contentment, albeit temporary.
I long for that actuality, that exitement, that attainment, but I haven’t the energy. I feel unable, heavy, lazy.
So I lie there, picturing the gym where I used to exercise. I disliked attending, but I went because it was good for me, on many levels. I know I won’t renew my membership. The atmosphere was too severe, too proficient, too intense.
Then it comes to me. Three weeks ago I was walking with a friend. She pointed to a building and mentioned that it contained a recently opened women’s gym. The news sank through my cranium, to be stored in my brain.
I leap from my bed, dress hastily, lick my face with a cold flannel, clean my teeth, leave my flat and walk briskly to the building. I arrive surprised and a little tearful. The instant I walk in the reptionist registers my state of shock. We talk, and she takes down details. She will ring me on Wednesday to check whether want to join. I have already made my decision. This place is friendly, casual, quietly feminine. It’s five minutes from where I live.
My spirit has shifted, and I feel empowered, able. I anticipate brave acts. Instead of retreating to my safe space, I hasten to the library and book a seat at a seminar on self-publishing. I take a detour on the way back to my flat, to check out a mental health charity which my GP has been repeatedly recommending to me for the past fifteen months. It’s closed, as this is Saturday, but I will go back.
At home, I switch on my laptop, find out where I can get an Indian head massage, ring the establishment, and take the earliest booking available.
I’m meant to be going to the beach with my nephew and niece, but I haven’t heard from them. I’m happy with that; this evening the family will eat together, amidst catch-up talk and unrestrained, expanding balloons of laughter.
It is noon. At five to ten I was in bed, despairing. By five past ten I was discussing gym membership. In two hours I have taken several massive strides, paving the way for a better life.
The smile that creases my face feels comfortable, as if it has been waiting patiently to find it’s right place.
©Jane Paterson Basil