Deadweight

by Tamuira Reid

Go because you're still holding onto the baby weight even though your baby is four.

Because you have nowhere else to go today. Because you're not over him.

Go because the depression is eating you alive, from the inside out. Go because you forget what happy feels like. (Go because you know how clichéd that sounds. Go because you don't want to be a fucking cliché.)

Go because you want to get laid. Go because you want to be naked again without reaching for the sheet. Go because the last time you really lifted something it was your dress, over your head, on the night you made your son. Go because you want to glisten with sweat like the models in the Lululemon ads. Go because you are a nerd who uses the word “glisten” still. Go because you're tired of your thighs chaffing as they rub together. Go because you're mom is worried you might be a lesbian, because all of your friends are gay men and you haven't had sex since 2010. Go because you want to get out of your head because your head scares you. Go because it's either the gym or the bar and we all know where the bar gets you.

Get a trainer. Pick a protein powder. Buy a duffle bag.

Learn the difference between a dumbbell and a barbell. That it's deadlift not deadweight. Learn to press. To plank. To lunge. Learn to hide the pain radiating through your knees and hips. Hide your age. Especially when the twenty-four year-old next to you looks bored going at speeds that would rip the cartilage right from your bones. Secretly decide to hate her. Secretly decide to be her.

Feel like an imposter, like someone will come to the treadmill at any second and pull you off by the neck. You are an outsider here but not for long.

Stop keeping a hair diary, the one the dermatologist told you to start when your hair began to fall in huge clumps, the one where you count every strand to report back how lazy your follicles are being. Stress levels lower when your glutes are firing. So forget about meditation tapes and visualization and rainforest gong music. You don't need to listen to rain or crickets or steel drums to fall asleep anymore. You will be out before your train leaves the station, your head resting on the guy's shoulder next to you. He'll feel sorry for you, even as your drool saturates the fabric of his Brooks Brothers shirt, the one his wife spent an hour ironing before she had coffee this morning. Because that's what newlyweds do.

You've never been a newlywed. Your relationships last about as long as your gym memberships. Make this time the exception. Be ready for the change.

Spend hundreds on a high-speed blender. Juice all kinds of fancy shit. And if your son's chocolate chip cookie happens to fall in, let it be. Accidents happen.

A couple of months will crawl by and you'll still be depressed but not in the same way. Your body is changing and somehow this brings a very vain, very shallow satisfaction to everything. The moodiness you feel is slightly muted when you notice your muffin top shrinking. Maybe your body will be harder than his one day. Maybe this will make you want him less.

Think about dating. About sitting across the table, in some over-crowded Fort Greene café, from someone who wants to get in your pants. Let him. Get on board with this. You don't do a hundred goddamn squats a day just to look at your own ass. Besides, you know something needs to change when you're only having coffee dates with guys you meet at AA meetings. Stop comparing them to one another, justifying their addictions and behaviors, well it's not like he crashed his car into a house…it was just a littlefence. Aim higher.

Dream again, while you're logging hours on the elliptical machine or row thingy or fake bike. Spin yourself into that fantasy state, that corner of your mind where exciting shit still happens. Imagine your future. Imagine an apartment with two bedrooms. It's been so long since you've had your own room that you wouldn't know what to put in it. Pictures of your son, probably.

Make friends. Listen when Luana tells you about her cancer and Tony sobs over his gluten-free donut about how his wife left him for a younger man and now all he has is the gym. He doesn't know what to do with himself. He feels so alone. You hold his hand and wonder how long Luana has to live. Wonder why they confide in you at all. Maybe they see something you don't yet.

Buy a tank top. Show your arms to the world. No, they won't be perfect, but they're getting more and more defined and you don't feel like wearing long sleeves in July. Go into Forever 21. And swiftly exit Forever 21. Stick with the Gap where it's safe.

He'll text you. Send back cool responses like, oh, hey, and what up? even though you don't feel like that girl yet. The girl who doesn't give a crap about the fucker who broke her heart. You care, but you have stopped writing in emoji and don't cry in public anymore.

Luana will want to set you up with her nephew, a stockbroker with a time-share in the Hamptons. He's not your type but go anyway. Tell her it was great because it kinda was.

Take your kid on a hike in the Cloisters. Notice you don't get winded as you climb the trail after him. He laughs at everything and nothing. You don't remember ever being that carefree. You don't remember ever loving someone more.

Eventually those baggy sweats you used to wear will be replaced by lycra tights and the personal trainer who always ignored you will now blatantly stare at supple curve of your quads. Think about kicking him. Think about mounting him. Think about the protein bar in your bag and decide to eat it instead.

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