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.