Reentry into the World


My brain says get out and run. My body doesn’t move. The temperature dropped—forty-nine and windy, overcast, damp, gray. A step backwards, as if winter isn’t quite done with us, wearing us down, reeling us in. I prefer yesterday—sunny, breezy, seventy. A perfect day, but I didn’t run.

I went to the YWCA spin-a-thon instead. Seventh annual? Eighth annual? Who knows? Those counts are screwed up now anyway. All annual events have a hole. Nothing happened in 2020, anywhere. The first year—the first annual (?)—I instructed an hour. I helped plan the whole event. I still worked for the Y’s admin team. I cut a deal with a bike shop for wholesale pedals. That’s what we raised money for that first year, new pedals. We thought small in those days.

This year was different. A friend died last summer. Scott was a longtime spinner at the Y. A big guy, tall, not thin but still fit. And young (at least in my mind), just sixty-four. He died playing golf. This year’s spin-a-thon memorialized Scott.

Like every other recent death, I learned about Scott’s on Facebook. It’s my only tie to my old world. I stopped working at the Y in 2017. I fell off the face of the earth. No fitness classes, no road races, all of my contact with the fitness crowd abruptly ended. When Scott died, I felt disconnected. I didn’t want to intrude on his friends’ mourning. Susan sent a card. I skipped the funeral.

With a nod to Covid, they held the spin-a-thon outdoors. Fifteen bikes formed a two-row semicircle in an empty parking lot. A gentle breeze blew. The sun shone. It was glorious. As I set up my bike, the woman next to me recognized me. “Where have *you* been?”

I’m a bit more connected than that. I go to Wednesday night spin most weeks now. Eli joined the Y in November. We got a family membership. I’ve seen some of these people recently. The instructor, Scott’s widow Lisa, Jim who lives in my neighborhood.

In mid-December, Lisa Facebook-messaged me. “We’re thinking of doing a memorial spin for Scott.”

Trying to be as unobtrusive as possible, I responded “I’d love to participate, if there’s enough room for me.”

The reply: “You have to! You are integral.”

Huh, I thought, look at that, Lisa taking a break from her grief just to make me feel included.

~ ~ ~


I got out for that run. Eli guilted me. “If you were tough, you’d do it.” He knows how to punch my buttons. Solitude. I ran through the woods, across a vacant farm, along a dirt trail and back to my car over empty park roads. Just me, no other runners, practically no cars. Alone is my default. I’m not sure why. As if I think I don’t deserve company, friendship.

I got a boost from the spin-a-thon. I felt part of something. I felt camaraderie. That’s missing in my life. I’d like to hold onto that, make it happen again.. The unbelievable mid-March weather kept coming up in conversation. Scott must be pulling strings, they said. I’m not sure he’s got that clout, but it’s exactly the sort of thing he would do. A few hours after the spin-a-thon ended, the skies opened up, purging the rain that could have been falling all day. Then the shower ended, leaving a massive rainbow hanging over the whole of Gettysburg.

It’s impossible to believe something supernatural wasn’t afoot. The day was too perfect. It felt like a reboot. Certainly for Scott’s wife and many of his friends. It felt that way for me—like my reentry into the world.

20 thoughts on “Reentry into the World

  1. Yes! So enjoyed this post Jeff, I
    Like it when you talk about your runs and cycles – I’m a loner by default too but it is nice to feel part of the crowd and always lovely when my more extroverted friends reach out and yank me back in. It’s a reminder that I probably need to catch up with a few people.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am always surprised that people remember me and want to include me. I know mine comes from never feeling like I was “enough” in childhood… knowing the why doesn’t stop the surprise.

    I think you should print a copy of that rainbow picture and put it somewhere you’ll notice it. Remind yourself that people DO think about you, and you ARE welcome.

    Aren’t you glad Eli called you a wimp? 😂 I have to talk smack to myself to get my butt in gear.

    Liked by 1 person

    • There’s never a time after I go running that I say ‘wow, I wish I didn’t run.’ Not sure why I can’t remember that. Everyone in my house is on a pretty big exercise kick right now and it’s really motivating. I’ve got the necessary clothes to take my down into the twenties comfortably. I just need someone to give me a kick in the butt. Thanks Eli.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. That is great! It’s always nice to be remembered, to know that you are liked and that people want you to be included. May this experience boost you back into a social-esque circle. I stopped going to my gym. Ida closed the main road I used to get there and I thought it would be good to save that money. With it gone, though, I realized that not only was I doing a workout, it was my main source of socializing. When the time is right, maybe I’ll have this same kind of experience.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, for me, that Wednesday class is the best workout of the week and the only time I socialize. I’m glad I’ve gotten back into it, Hopefully Susan and Eli keep using the Y, because I can’t justify a membership for one class a week. Think about rejoining that class. I’m sure you’ll be happy you did. Can you do a few day passes to see if you still like the vibe?

      Liked by 2 people

      • Well, the gym was really expensive. $175 a month. The reason I started going was because one of Bob’s friends asked me to go as a guest (she would get a discount if I joined) and Bob said I would to get me around others. They had that contract thing so I was stuck. I really liked getting out of the contract and the monthly bill but miss the socialization. I have been looking at some other alternatives like the Y or LA Fitness – to make it a family thing. Something with an indoor basketball court so Bobby could use it too. I haven’t settled on anything. The first thing would be to join something and THEN get the cojones to attend a class and not just use the machines/weights.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Wow, $175 is a LOT of money. I think that’s more on par with what we pay for a family 3 month pass. I guess that’s the city effect. I think crossfit is more on par with your price, which is funny because it’s in an unheated garage and the only equipment is weights.

          Liked by 2 people

  4. I know, right? They had two rowers but the rest was just weights. They renovated an old firehouse and it was really nice. But I thought the price was ridiculous. The class sizes were never very big. Nine people tops. I always thought that we were paying for so much trainer attention. Still – I wanted out of the contract and bill. I’m sure I’ll find something. Anyway, good luck to you and your new reentry. Keep us posted!


  5. Love this post, Jeff. So relatable. I’m sorry about your friend, Scott. Good on Eli for punching your buttons, getting you outside on a run. I’m trying to dip my toe into social stuff in my new town, like volunteering to write promotional pieces for the group that creates and maintains town trails. It’s hard, given (a) I’m an introvert and (b) the traditional local disdain for newcomers (“flatlanders”). I’m glad you’ve been noticed and appreciated, even if you were unaware you were missed. Here’s hoping we all avoid any more Covid surges and can enjoy expanded opportunities to connect with others, in real life, however we prefer that to happen.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Can you really be considered a ‘flatlander’ when you come from a mountainous area that puts Vermont hills to shame? It is nice to be noticed. My introverted (shy) nature makes it really hard to capitalize on the attention. I think I just come across as grumpy or aloof. I need to come up with strategies to bypass this.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. When I feel part of a community it motivates me to share and that has a ripple effect into other areas of my life. It’s a good feeling. It’s a nice reminder that we all matter. The community you’ve fostered here feels like such a place. Thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

    • That’s a nice thing to say about my wordpress circle, thanks. Every now and then, I’ll be reading someone else’s blog and I’ll notice that someone who normally reads my blog liked or commented on the post. I give myself a mental pat on the back for connecting them (even though I know they just as likely connected themselves).

      Liked by 1 person

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