I can do this, only twelve more minutes. Pushing aside the thunk thunk thunk of my feet on the treadmill, I make the speed faster with the misguided logic that the faster I go the sooner this will be over. Suddenly, time seems to move through molasses. Nine minutes to go and a young-ish man, definitely over six feet, white, and very muscular is standing on the treadmill next to mine. Just standing. From my side eye I can not make out any other features besides his blue and very tight shirt. I run a little faster.
Even during peak hours on a Sunday there are always ample cardio machines open. That is kind of their schtick – no classes, but one million machines. Must he stand there? Is it my leggings? They are no different from what any other woman is wearing here (I learned the hard way not to wear anything too loose during a 30 minute run: chafe city). Or maybe it is my top. I glance down to see if there is any visible cleavage. Nope, but I did trip a little in the process.
Seven and a half minutes to go and he is still just standing there. Should I leave? I could switch to a different machine on the other side of the gym. Is that too petty? No, but I was here first. I am twenty three minutes in and damnit I don’t want to move. I don’t want to change machines and begin to cool down only to have to start running again and disrupt my workout all because of some creep. Six minutes left. Why isn’t he even walking?
At a bar the gawking may be a little more acceptable, but come on – this early on a Sunday? I am hardly even awake. Five minutes to go. Is he even gawking? Or am I just paranoid? This could all be in my head. I could be totally overreacting.
I am not overreacting. Am I running provocatively? How does one run unprovocatively?
Deep breaths, three minutes to go. I wish that girl who was running next to me before just stayed a while longer.
Two minutes. I should have just walked away the minute I got that weird feeling – that instinctive “I’m not safe here” bubble in my stomach. But I didn’t and now there is only one and a half minutes left and I just can’t justify it. Does my safety and peace of mind really need a justification, though? If this man were walking next to me down the street I would cross to the other side. If it were dark, I would have my pepper spray in hand. Still, he is not running or walking or using the treadmill in any way. Only 60 seconds left. I should have expected something like this. I should have seen it coming.
Three… two… one… I walk away without wiping down the machine. As I turn the corner towards the women’s locker room I look back. He left.
Man Repeller recently posted a piece about the uninspiring nature of London Fashion Week’s street style, and I have to agree. Leandra Medine, the sites creator and author/fashion genius extraordinaire, expanded it to all of the fashion week’s street styles this season and attributed it to the boom then fade of the 2010’s fashion blogs and online personalities. I, however, feel it is about something different. It is well known that fashion is cyclical and that trends rotate with the seasons, but as social media and fast fashion have bombarded the industry with instant feedback and new trends faster than fashion houses can create them, there has developed a chasm between the styles we see on the street: the thoughtfulness seen at New York Fashion Week and the exuberance of effortlessness at LFW.
If you have not heard of it, the Whole 30 is a 30 day eating plan designed to cut food addictions and force you to recognize how what you eat affects how you feel. SO here are the rules: no dairy, no grains, no processed foods of any kind, absolutely no added sugar, and no legumes. Also, if you have any “crutch” food or any food (ahem, french fries) that are not in the spirit of the Whole 30, those are out too.
Real Talk: I am queen of binge eating. I once ate 15 eggnog cookies in a day. I ate 10 of them before 4 PM but then finished the whole thing off thinking oh, it would be such a shame to leave just five in the tin… I can eat like any given episode of Gilmore Girls or the beginning of Charlie’s Angels when Drew Barrymore’s character says at the drive through window “Three cheeseburgers, three french fries… what do you guys want?” Except I am not permanently a size two with perfect skin and glossy hair. I feel bloated and regret. I will justify it thinking “Ok, these are my calories for the week. Must. Cut. Intake.” And then three days later I will have binged again just as hard.
This is where the Whole 30 comes in. I know I do not have the best relationship with food, but other than the afore mentioned guilt filled binges typically around the holidays/my birthday/any kind of big event, I know I don’t have the worst relationship with food so I have been putting off making any sort of change. After I returned from the Camino de Santiago in November and the afore mentioned cookie mishap, I decided I needed another challenge. After all, I can do anything for 30 days.
I am a little over halfway through my first Whole 30 now, and yes, I know that there will be more for me. I thought maybe I would loose weight, I hoped I would become less dependent on food for happiness, but I did not expect how dramatically it would change my eating experience. Food tastes richer now. The fruits and veggies that I once thought were a little bland are now truly exploding with flavor. I am not nearly as tired throughout the day and I do not feel that insatiable need to snack between every meal. I walk by the candy dish at work without longing or regret. I have slowly but surely become confident in the kitchen.
The Whole 30 its not permanent for me – I would never want to be traveling or at an event and miss out on an experience because of my diet. But it has squashed my sugar cravings. It has made me more thoughtful and more productive. I am 20 pounds lighter than I was six months ago and the lightest I have been since high school, and I am not starving. In fact, I went back for seconds last night because my artichoke, beet, and olive crusted chicken thighs were so good.
There are teens in front, a few thirty somethings behind, and a crowd of parents watching their children from the balcony. Tonight the Sinclair is an exhibition of who wore it frumpiest and a part of me wants to hate everyone here in that I DISCOVERED THEM FIRST, YOU ARE SO LATE jealousy. Amidst all of my excitement, though, I forgot that Wet does not play the music that is exactly meant for a concert. It is the kind of music that I can play softly at my desk because nothing about it is offensive. It is my secret anthem propelling me towards the life I want for myself and the successes I have not yet reached. It is sing to in the car music and cry to in the shower music. None of their songs really are anthems, though, and as Kelly Zutrou (still recovering from a cold) opened with And my face turned to red from drinking all that deadwater and then again when you said I was my mothers daughter I wondered for the first time if I would be disappointed.
A skirt of sparkles flares out as she twirls round and round. A little run, on tippy toes, and an abrupt stop. She stares in awe at the stained glass window. They seem to reach onward and upward, forever and ever towards the sky. It is a wonder how all of those perfectly colored slivers fit so neatly together. But then the music starts and a hushed, but harsh, whisper and wave ushers her back to her seat.
Pietro made the sauce while I cut the vegetables. Lisa and Marcela sat in the kitchen to escape the bitter cold of our (partially unroofed) albergue meanwhile Bartek and Karl said that they would help to make dinner but really only helped to eat it. It was only a few hours ago, but thinking about that jovial laughter is making me furious. Sticking it to the guys for not helping and hoarding the wine between Pietro and myself seemed like great fun. Those second and third helpings were a godsend after hiking thirty-six excruciating kilometers in the light but constant rain. Now, though, my stomach will not stop rumbling. It gurgles and turns over on itself and it seems to me that the bricks holding this building together have no moarter between them, but only wind. Somehow, I am still sweating. The elderly wooden bunks groan with each move I make and it is causing minute sways in the bunk above me. I think about the daunting walk through the unpaved courtyard between me and the outhouse. I cannot take it anymore; I spend the next two hours recreating the scene from Bridesmaids.
The air is dead: stiff and unmoving. All of the lights are off and the door creaks as I twist the key in the lock. Two yellow eyes look up at me and I smile. I let myself in, drop some cat food into the dish, and take a look around. They are only gone for one week, but it feels as if no family has lived here for much longer. With each step into the almost forgotten home, a different life presents itself to me. Maybe in another life I could have filled the corners with freshly cut flowers and painted the walls a respectable shade of blue. We would smile annoyingly at each other and laugh every day. It is possible, though, that I too would have been sucked down the same dark hole of depression with too few consequences and not enough motivation. Or maybe we could have had a perfectly normal life. I would wake up in the bedroom upstairs every day for years before I realized I was living someone else’s dream. Maybe things could have been different.
Just ahead there is a pair of feet in the air with toes that cannot stay still as the ankles they are connected to circle round and round. To my left there is a man rocking on his back, holding his knees tightly to his chest; to my right is a woman seated with a purposeful stillness and an audible whoosh of breath in and out her nose. The room is packed. On my mother’s recommendation I have signed up for one month of yoga – thirty dollars for thirty days.
I have walked thirty-three days without glimpse of my forever friend, but her footprints are all over this trail. There have been whispers of her smell and descriptions of her divine beauty, but none of them do her reality justice. Those who have gone their whole lives without ever having met her wonder quizzically with nervousness and excitement what it is that has drawn so many before them. What they cannot know, though, is that it is not only the air and the ecosystem that changes as one approaches the sea. Seaside towns are different. They are a little harsher and a little friendlier. She ignites a feeling deep in the bones of all people: feeling small as our earth turns, unnoticing of our tribulations; of childlike wonder, of returning home.
“Congratulations, you had your baby!” Insert confused look here. “The other day I was in shopping, and you were pregnant…?”
Working as a stylist/retail bitch is sometimes rewarding but a lot of the time monotonous and slightly demeaning. In this particular instance I was dealing with two extraordinarily wealthy clients. Both girls were foreign exchange students from the same city, but became BFFs when they met their first year in college. They also have monthly allowances of what I hope my yearly earnings will one day look like. On Monday they took full advantage of that allowance. On Wednesday they were back to exchange almost half of their purchases. On Monday I was wearing a boxy turtleneck sweater dress – one of those heinously-on-trend looks great on a super model type pieces – and on Wednesday I was back to my crop top and high-waisted jeans (lazy) routine.