Writing Calisthenics

AvatarA collection of short stories, essays, and exercises to keep my brain from rusting between larger works.

Dangerous Clothing

It's been a decade since I last cared about the way I dressed.  It was a difficult decade, one that lasted much longer than the usual ten years and one I fear may not be over.  They were years marked; scraped bloody then healed over with the fibrous scar of a burn.  They were years of loud and one-sided compromise where the very idea of improvement was trampled underfoot by the grinding endurance required to just stay afloat.      Looking back, it seems less and less of a coincidence that I took up the marathon during this time.  Turning that emotional perseverance into something physical provided evidence of accomplishment I could feel with my hands.  Medals and race bibs were material things that had substance, things that I could hold onto and say with certainty that stamina and persistence produced results.  In a time marked by hopelessness and alienation, running created its own light.
    As I ran, I lost weight, I gained strength, and my body changed, though never enough to overcome the betrayal of premature baldness I'd carried since my teens.  But the more I ran, the further and further the bright spots grew apart: ten miles away this week, twelve miles next, sixteen, twenty.  With each success came even more failures: injury, fatigue, and missed goals.  I pushed harder and broke down more often until I literally could not run any more.  For the first time since I'd started running, I gave up during a race.  As a runner, this is what defines failure: DNF.  Did not finish.