Hello my friends! I am happily writing this love letter to you from my back porch!! The sun is seeping through the screen, Rueygirl is sunbathing next to me, and all the snow melt is dripping and soaking away. There sure is nothing like losing all modern utilities in a snow storm to really make you appreciate ya privilege in the world. Or, for that matter, to test the strength of your relationship. 30 degree temps inside the house don't necessarily bring out the best in us...
And yet! We are happy and healthy and there is nothing more beautiful to be grateful for. Brian and I certainly felt this a few days after the storm; he came home from work, I was bundled up on the couch furiously catching up on work. He lovingly suggested that we go to our YMCA for a workout to start our weekend off right. So we threw on some stretchy gym clothes and headed out the door.
We are new members of this Y and are still learning the ins and outs of it. Like, for instance, we shouldn't go try to workout at 630. Everyone is off work, kids are out of school, girl scouts are meeting, families are burning off energy, couples (like ourselves) are spending some time together. It's just mad chaos. Also, all the machines are taken and that creates a lot of start-stop-start-stop-stop.....no "flow" as they say in the long distance running world (dang it Syd, what a niche thing to reference).
I am realizing I am making a relatively short story increasingly drawn out. Put concisely and simply: There was a dude deadlifting in front of a squat rack. He wasn't using the squat rack, just set up his bar in front of it making it difficult to access the squat rack. I was feeling a little intimidated in a new gym and didn't feel like I could just go up and use the rack. Add to this, the guy was doing some sort of circuit workout out so he was actively using 5 different machines/areas of the gym. At 630. Peak hour. Hundreds (not really) of people all fighting for one elliptical. So just not cool. I felt weird and asked if Brian wouldn't mind walking over to the rack with me. He, of course, was fine and didn't really understand my discomfort and walked over with me. He asked the guy, "you using this?" to which he responds, "nah". Simple, sure.
But then as Brian starts loading up his side of the rack, I am noticing that this guy isn't going to move. Homeboy is 3 feet from the rack and fully intended to stay there. The thought of squatting 3 feet from anyone's face makes me uncomfortable, let alone a stranger, in the gym, who has bad manners. I awkwardly stumble on my words, trying to move away from the rack and the guy as quickly as possible without making anyone tooooooo uncomfortable. Flustered, I tell Brian I want to leave if he's ready and we head outside.
I couldn't verbalize it but I was feeling very stormy inside my stomach and my brain. I was a little surprised that someone would have such bad gym manners, I was really disappointed that I didn't just ask the guy to move back some, and I was realizing this was just another tiny little example of how dudes don't often feel uncomfortable or unsafe within their environment. It happens to me when I run sometimes and now it was happening within a gym that I just paid 50 dollars to have access to just this month. I was really disappointed in myself for not saying anything. It would have been really simple. But I was so shocked that he was either so unaware OR very very aware of his decision to stay so close to where my ass would be that I let that intimidate me away from just finishing my workout.
As I am writing this I am feeling even more regret that I didn't simply say "could you please move." I let something really small shoo me out of a place I have equal right to. I sat in the car getting ready to drive home and just sort of word vomited to Brian. It brought me back to standing on a bus stop being cornered and told to get into a man's car. It brought me back to being spit on and laughed at while I ran past a car full of men, super close to my campus. It brought me back to running down a street in my old neighborhood and having men old enough to be my father yell at me. The common denominator is always: I am existing within the world, in shared space, by myself. I am carrying out the shocking assertion that I have equal rights to safety and prosperity. And without fail, there is always some asshole dude who feels his personal whim--whether it be sexual or spacial--is more powerful than my own.
To be completely honest, I am fed the fuck up with this. I don't enjoy feeling unsafe within the confines of my own skin because someone else feels his distorted pleasure is too heavy a burden to silently bare. I don't feel that was what the guy in the gym was doing (at all) but the tiny little interaction snowballed feelings I don't often revisit. I felt it was ironic or just beautiful timing that this storm happened 12 hours before the 2nd Women's March.
Brian and I went with my aunt and uncle to show solidarity to the cause and, to be perfectly honest, to revive some of the momentum I possibly have lost throughout the year. At times it can feel that there is just too much weighing down every.single.day that it is almost easier to pinhole yourself into your immediate life. your house, partner, work, or school. Being action oriented and powerful all the time is tiring and can dwindle away. So we went and rallied. It was awesome, I wore my Future is Female tshirt and tried to focus on one organization that I wanted to partner with in the coming months.
This was admittedly long winded for an ending that is not clean or resolved. So if you made it this far, thanks for sliding through my winding thought patterns for a cool 10 minutes <3 sending love from my porch to you<3