If you’re ever in my neck of the woods and want to say hello, you can catch me going for my morning walk in a new(-ish) section of a county park that was built right in my town. It has a path that winds along a creek. Once you get to the far end, and if it’s not cloudy, you can see the Empire State Building in the distance. A kinda nifty way to start out the day. I am there just about every morning at 9:00 a.m. (earlier once the kids go back to school).
But my favorite time to walk has always been at night. I don’t do it much anymore because I don’t like to leave my kids alone at night, even if I’m just a mile away in the county park. Last night, though, their dad came by to pick them up unexpectedly and I found myself with a free evening. I got some writing done, then got my sneakers on and headed to the park. It was totally dark, but the path is well lit and there’s plenty of activity until late in the evening.
I am not a big fan of exercising, so I do it grudgingly. That’s at the start. Eventually, the endorphins start pumping and I begin to feel good. Images of every exercise infomercial I’ve ever watched start flashing through my mind and I fancy myself more Jillian Michaels and less middle-aged jelly-belly mom. I start getting a little swagger in my step. I begin doing fancy steps like I’ve watched on HBO specials of football players practicing, crouched down, traveling sideways, first right, then left, then moving into discombobulated cariocas, imagining I am kicking serious butt. I pump my arms to the music. I lean on each bench I walk by and do push-ups.
I start to imagine I am Rambo in a sports bra.
It was due to this exercise-induced psychosis that at the end of my run-walk I decided I was going to pump it up a notch. Living my P90X fantasies, I made it to the nearest bench, a smooth black metal with rounded edges. I put my right foot up on it, convinced that I was going to do an epic round of step-ups onto the bench. Not just any step ups, though, double time step-ups, with feet so fleet they would both be in the air at the same time, pumping up my heart rate and confirming my bad-assery. Sure, the bench was a little higher than the Reebok Step of my youth, where I learned this exercise, but no matter. I got this.
You know where this is going.
I got my right foot up just fine. Then I made a little hop – the goal was to get the right foot on the ground and the left one on the bench while airborne – and was propelled backwards with such force that I could swear the bench pushed me off just to pick a fight. Through the air I flew, like any stuntman you’ve ever seen knocked back by a major explosion, in slo-mo. I landed on butt, right elbow and palm and left knee – not sure how that’s anatomically even possible, but I’ve got the scrapes to prove it.
I collected myself, glad that as the evening was winding down that particular stretch of path was deserted, so no one witnessed my humiliation. My knee stung through the hole in my pants, created not during this fall but during a previous incident about a year ago in which my left foot decided to get smart with my right one while I was taking out the garbage and down we went in a pile of shame right at the curb in front of my house. (The only conclusion to draw here is that those pants are clearly jinxed). I triaged my injuries and determined that the thing that had taken the worst hit was my pride.
So, you’re more than welcome to come join me on my morning walk. I will even show you to the point where you can spot the Empire State Building. One service I will not perform, however, is a demonstration of how to do bench exercises. I’ll leave that to someone whose feet are not conspiring against her.