Thank you, Mr. President, for finally saying out loud what we have all known to be true: Love is love is love. And now I love you even more.
So, I’ve been walking outside a lot.
The last few weeks have been nothing if not… hard. Full of loss. Disappointing, in ways that are too huge to be encapsulated by that little word.
I have a hard time recovering from loss. Usually I just write it all out. But over the past weeks it is hard to know what to say about any of it – deaths, near deaths, anniversaries of deaths and lives that have never taken shape. I have mostly said and written nothing to honor other peoples’ privacy,
But on my part, there have been a lot tears. Snotty, torrents of tears. Oh, the tears. I cry and I cry and I cry.
Oh, and sometimes I cry.
Tears. My foe. And my friend. My release. My eyes well up so easily that the need for Kleenex is a joke the Byron and I have.
“Again,” he says, at Walgreens, when we are in the tissue aisle. “You are out already?”
“I cry a lot,” I say. And it is true.
But I feel lucky to have emotions, especially after a conversation with a friend who said, “I wish I could cry. My antidepressants make it impossible.” She squeezed my hand in her fist and said, “I envy tears.”
Mine come freely enough that I am ashamed of them sometimes. I want to put the covers over my head and not let people see how often I need a good, deep cry.
But with this pledge that I have made, I have to get out and walk a fucking mile every day of my life. So I have been taking the covers off and just doing it.
More than once I have slapped on sunglasses, cursing both my sister and my mother, and just walked, crying the whole way. Once I was crying so hard that I had to stop in a doorway to wipe my nose and calm down.
That was on the way out the door. The interesting thing is that I have never walked my mile and come home crying.
On the way home I always realize: I feel good. I hear birds chirping. I notice that the sun is shining. But it does take a while.
At least a mile, I have found.
Once, on my way home after one of my cry-fests, I saw her, clear as day. A woman walking towards me wearing sunglasses and bawling her eyes out.
She was having her own moment with herself.
She was walking it off.
I was so proud of both of us.
Today was one of the most beautiful days I have experienced here in San Francisco. The sun was shining — even in the often cloudy Richmond District, where we live — there was a warm breeze and all of the trees and plants were blooming. The air smelled the way I imagine Heaven smells, if you believe in that sort of thing.
In short, there was no way in hell I was going to set foot in the YMCA to get my workout done today.
Instead I took the loveliest of all walks with my friend Kristi, who is battling through day two of the Can Can Cleanse. For someone who hasn’t eaten a morsel of food in almost 48 hours, she was remarkably good company.
We walked roughly 2.4 miles, according to my Google Maps calculations. Here was our route (one way, since I still can figure out how to map it round-trip):
Today’s workout was another power walk whilst getting shit done. With a meeting this morning, another this afternoon and then work this evening, I just couldn’t squeeze in the gym. I have found, however, that by mapping out my route on Google Maps I can find out exactly how far I will walk before I start my errands. By mapping it in advance, I know if I have to take the long way home or get off the bus a few block early to make it to a mile. Often it forces me to get more done in order to meet my goal.
Today was no problem. I walked a cool 1.6 miles and got all of my errands done — post office, market and Walgreens. (The map above is just one-way, I still can’t figure out how to get it to map my walks round trip.)
Later in the day, I accidentally walked a 15-minute mile when I got on the wrong bus and found myself a mile away from work with 16 minutes to spare. Sometimes the universe just wants what it wants and today it wanted me to hoof it all over town.
How are YOU all doing on your workouts?
Day 6: 2.7 miles
One mile done… by the skin of my teeth. I had to walk part of the way to work to squeeze it in but, luckily, the weather is cooperating. Today I may have to do the same but I will get it done!
This “commitment thing” isn’t always easy, is it?
I love this article from the March 9th edition of the New York Times about how the actress Fran Drescher has decided to take her belief that all people should have the right to marry one step further by becoming an ordained minister who specializes in marrying same-sex couples. Inspiring!
“Wisdom is knowing what to do next; virtue is doing it.”
~David Star Jordan, The Philosophy of Despair
With today being my only full day off for the next five days, I decided I should combine my exercise regiment with “getting shit done,” i.e. hiking a mile up to the grocery store and back, for a total of two miles. (Exactly two miles, according to Google Maps.)
And my arms! They are ripped from carrying that huge shopping bag.
Unlike my sister, I don’t have any memories of exercising with my mother, or with any of my parents for that matter. Growing up in New York City, working out was done in gyms or on Sunday morning jogs through Central Park. Until I was a teenager the only exercise I remember hearing about involved a class called “Body by Jake,” and some jokes about how my father was the only man ballsy enough to attend.
By the time fitness became a passion for my parents, I was a teenager and uninterested in the joys of physical exertion, lest it make my eyeliner run. My Tretorns were exclusively used to accessorize my Guess? Jeans and I liked it that way.
I did gymnastics a little as a kid, took a tap dancing class and played a bit of squash but by the time I got to boarding school my sophomore year of high school, I felt woefully behind when it came to sports.
When I got to Kent, not only did I not have any real experience with sports, I didn’t even know what some of them were. No one plays field hockey in New York City and I spent my first semester of boarding school baffled by why my roommate would change out of a perfectly cute outfit to don a shrunken Catholic schoolgirl uniform and run around a field with a stick.
I decided to join the cast of the school play and smoke cigarettes at the local pizza place instead. I wore incredibly short skirts, don’t get me wrong. But my hair looked great and, unlike the field hockey team, I smelled of Ylang Ylang Perfume, not like sweat and tears. To the field hockey coach: You are welcome.
The one thing I have always enjoyed —a necessity as a New Yorker—was walking. The city has always inspired me to take long, brisk walks at all hours of the day and night. Here in San Francisco, without a car, my walking habit has continued. I’ve covered a lot of terrain in this city on foot and hoofing it remains my preferred mode of transportation. So, while I am not an athlete of any kind, I challenge anyone to out walk me, especially in a major city.
When Lorrin mentioned the idea of the Fit to Be Equal project, where we would run a sponsored mile every day to raise money for charity to honor our mother, I balked. Mainly because, as you may have gathered by now, I am not a runner. Unlike other sports, I do know how to run. I just choose not to, preferring to spend my time participating in activities that don’t make being hit by a bus seem like a more pleasing option.
A runner I am not, but in my 30s, I begrudgingly developed a gym routine to supplement my walks. I have also found a perverse pleasure in Bikram yoga over the past year. Somehow, contorting myself in a boiling hot room has proven therapeutic for me.
So I am going to accept this challenge and pledge to shake the ample booty that my mama gave me with a walk every day for one year. That will be a minimum of 365 miles to honor my mother. I am doing this to remind me of her, to honor her and to remind myself that some of my personal goals, fitness among them, are worth the struggle.
I write this a little bit terrified of the commitment. But then I think of my mother. My mother fought hard for everything she had. She was lusty and was always after something that seemed out of reach; for her, love, respect, self-esteem, education and equal rights topped the list. She achieved almost everything on that list, even marriage to her same-sex soul mate.
A regret she expressed before her death was that she wouldn’t live to see marriage equality for all people. She wanted everyone to be allowed the experience of marriage; the rights it affords you as a couple and, mostly, the deep affirmation of love and respect that she and Elly celebrated until the end.
I’d like to help her cross that last goal off her list.
So, starting on April 12, 2012, I will walk at least one mile every day, or do a commensurate amount of exercise in the form of yoga or Pilates. (Or, who knows, maybe I’ll even take up field hockey.)
Along with my sister and Elly, on opposite sides of the country, we’ll do it again on the 13th. And again and again, every single day until April 12, 2013. I’ll keep track of my progress here and keep myself honest by posting a weekly journal of all my workouts to Facebook via this blog.
Whether or not you knew my mother, you surely know someone in the LGBT community whose greatest hope is to marry. I hope that you’ll join me in this fight for equality by sponsoring me at 50¢ per mile (or any amount you can manage) to be donated at the end of the year to the Human Rights Campaign in my mother’s name.
Thank you in advance for your contribution as I embark on this journey to shake this big ol’ thang!