Caffeinated Cardio

It was Friday night, nearly 10:00 pm, and the gym was about to close, as it rightfully should. I, by some miracle, had managed to tear myself away from a night destined for cookies and Netflix, for a date with a treadmill. Running, sweating, and panting like a husky in summertime, my lone figure was visible to the outside world through a long panel of windows that reflected me back to myself, highlighting just how empty, depressing, and fluorescent the room was.

I felt sporadic waves of pride and sadness spill over me for being there; remembering having been on the other side of the glass, scoffing at the poor souls within and dismissing their resolve as vanity. And yet, there I was, needing to be there, needing to run, to go nowhere. I could feel the caffeine from the green tea I drank earlier, bubbling up to the surface of my skin, pounding at my temples, burning at the back of my throat. The treadmill slowed to a stop, and as I stepping off of it, the world appeared to glide past me, my feet seemingly spinning the globe on its axis as I stayed, pacing on one fixed point.

As I drifted to the bus stop, headphones on, hands in pockets, hair styled in a stringy, damp, mess; I tried to understand what was happening. People were milling about, dressed to impress and primed for drunkenness, and there I stood, sweat settling into cold skin, endorphins and green tea swirling in a symphony of confusion through my veins.

I couldn’t tell what I wanted in that moment. Maybe I wanted to be happy with myself for doing something other than what I expected. Maybe I felt like being lonely. But as I waited for the bus to come transport me, in all my glistening glory, homeward, I wondered if this was adulthood; just a series of seemingly mundane, yet somehow, profound moments that accumulate to determine what kind of person you are. The kind that dedicates their time to binge eating and show watching, the equally lonesome, but surprisingly fit, late night gym goer, or perhaps just another face in a torrent of people forgetting themselves and their worries in a crowded bar.

I didn’t quite know where I stood in all of it, so I just stood there at the bus stop, wondering; waiting to see if maybe tomorrow I could choose to be someone entirely different.