by a boy in motion
Bones crack with every heel that hits the Lakeshore path:
Sciatica. Shin splints. Worn out shoes.
But your body is running away from you
Running began as a form of self-punishment. You ran because your hips got wider. You ran because movies and magazines and Special K cereal boxes told You and
Everyone Like You that you were
But you never really believed that.
You ran until you hit 92 pounds in high school, until you had to explain to your doctor that no, you were not anorexic and yes, you understood that eating disorders are a serious problem among Teenage Girls
No, you weren’t trying to lose weight—you were just running.
You swallowed the birth control pills they gave you, “filled out” until someone else was satisfied, until you bled and proved you could breed because that is
what Women do
and kept on running.
College spit you onto streets in what you didn’t dare call your neighborhood, but you ran up and down them until they were yours. You spent hours at the college gym running on the treadmill, running away from the girls who kicked you out of the locker room because
you didn’t look
You ran through summers and rain and ice-covered sidewalks that left ankles twisted and bruised. But you still run.
When you run you are genderless—a blur in a hoodie and sweatpants, getting chin jerks from the dudes you see every morning, pounding out the same path.
Almost summer again, and a newer You stretches its limbs. You up your mileage.
You run to the lake where men sit by themselves in hiking boots and parkas—men dressed like your father. You wonder if he’d be proud of your newfound athleticism. You spent a childhood trying to impress him, treading water until you thought you’d drown just to prove that you were tough, the first kid to reach the top of the hill or catch a fish with bare hands.
But as you’ve started growing stronger, growing into this body that can move and change with muscles clinging to hairy calves and broad shoulders, he can’t look at it.
He can’t look at you.
So you run until you see yourself instead.