Injurious middle age

In February, I tore the attachment between my hamstring and calf.

In April, the outer toes on my left foot started to go numb on long walks. The nerve was compromised.

In June, I aggravated the tendons in my foot and was sent, at last, to physical therapy.

Physical therapy taught me that I have terrible balance.

My strengthening exercises involve standing on my injured foot and shifting my weight here and there.

Slow down. Balance.

Balance. Slow down.

I’m not fond of either thing, frankly.

And so, I biked all over the damn place, and gave up sugar and white flour. I made myself tremendous salads, and roasted vegetables, and learned to love plain yogurt. I went to bed hungry.

If you are going to rebuild your self, why not start with a virtual stranger? An injured woman who doesn’t eat pie. A woman suddenly incapable of walking her usual three hours a day.

And what if you discover that cutting out sugar makes her less moody? That going to bed hungry means she sleeps more soundly. That here, at 43, biking all over the damn place is a flashback to life at 9 when her whole world was a dirt bike and adventure.

What if this terrible year of limping and pain has actually brought me a pregnant joy?

I count out my reps in 30-second intervals. I stretch and ice and stretch and ice and find myself counting how long I brush my teeth, and how many steps to the elevator.

I have learned to cradle my feet and love them. To slather them with CBD ointment. To baby them with German shoes.

I practice standing straighter. Walking heel to toe without turning my foot.

I practice being a flamingo.

I practice hopping my bike off the curb on the downhills.

Fast! Super FAST!

What if this year has taught me how much better I am at love? At the quiet steadiness of it. The work. How I exercise love. Stretch its muscles and strengthen its heart.

I have become my own project. A little more fit. A little more devoted. Better at curling and uncurling my toes. Better at squaring my hips. Better at seeing how slowly we unfold ourselves like sleepy trees opening wider and wider to the rain.

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