It’s dark. My shirt shines an unnatural fluorescent purple under the neon glare and I can see 1,000 little pills of fabric that don’t show up in every day light. People are sweaty, music blasts and a woman wearing a lot of lycra, screams “Are we ready!?” way too energetically in my ear. We haven’t even begun and I just want to go home and shower. Welcome to my Tuesday spin class.
Class starts and we’re just warming up to “I got a feeling” from the Black Eyed Peas, stretching out our arms, loosening our joints and getting our legs ready for the ride. I ease into my pace and mentally tune out. What do I need to do when this is over? I go thru my check list. Supermarket – milk, OJ, detergent, remember pancakes for Michael. Call Dad. Shower. Pick up crickets for Smiles, our bearded dragon. Baseball practice later. Get Gatorade.
I return to my father. He’s having a rough week, extra miserable and depressed. His doctors aren’t getting back to him and for a reason that is correlated with his misery and depression, he will never just pick up the phone and call them again. Instead he just sits, waits and bemoans his sorry state. Our last conversation was an hour of me shushing my children away, trying to help him find a reason to live, while he explained the intricacies of how to take enough pills to get committed in a psych ward but not enough to kill himself. Good times. Good times.
Call Dad’s psychiatrist, I add to my list before hunkering down, turning up my gear and preparing for the first hill. “It’s coming!” Judy, the instructor, calls out like a voice from beyond. “You’re almost there. Turn it up!”
“Staying Alive” from the Bee Gees pumps motivation, and my legs slow down as the harder gear makes it, well, harder. One. Two. One. Two. What am I going to eat when this is over? I wonder. Should I have frozen yogurt for lunch? Or food? One. Two. Maybe I’ll drive to the yogurt store. One. That’s bad. I should eat something healthy. Two. I did have cottage cheese, Fiber One and blueberries for breakfast, I remind myself, that’s healthy. Frozen yogurt for lunch!
“Put on another gear!” Judy yells. “And take it up!” I grunt and stand. Katy Perry’s, “Fireworks” is sparking us into action. I’m nearing the top of the hill and I’ve turned up the gear yet again. My legs feel leaden, like concrete slowly hardening. I pedal on. Almost there! Al mo st there. Even my thoughts are taking heavy breaths. I c a n d o i t !
“Hungry like the Wolf” kicks in to help us make it to the top. Wolves have always reminded me of my father. They used to call him Grey wolf for his sharp, bright green eyes and, yes, hair that was almost fully grey by his early thirties. And he was clever, with a joke or a line. The ladies loved him, but why am I still thinking about him? “Love Shack” is pumping through my ears straight down to my legs and I’m racing down this hill like my love is at the bottom and I haven’t had sex in years! “It’s Love Shack Baby! Everybody’s moving, everybody’s grooving, around and around and around and arouuuuund.” I’m singing in my head and between breaths it sometimes comes out my mouth. I can’t help it. I’m flying. Judy has challenged me to beat out the other spinners in my line and I’m going to kick their asses!
I’m sure I won the race to the bottom, but now there are sprints and jumps. I hate sprint and jumps. And even though I love “It’s my life” by Bon Jovi, I don’t know if it’ll be enough to get me through those up and downs. At least I have no energy to think. I’m a tight focused ball of keep on keeping on.
We finally finish the drills, and I’m hunched over in third position just riding my pace for the next few minutes of Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance. The final hill approaches. “I want you to want me,” by Cheap Trick is playing and I’m in the moment until somehow it leads me to my husband and I begin to mull over how our relationship has changed since we’ve had the kids. It makes me sad sometimes that it’s no longer about us. At times I feel like the fourth in line – fifth if you count baseball – for his attention when I used to be solidly first. It’s embarrassing to admit being jealous of your husband’s amazing focus on the children, but it’s true. Then I think how I am now the selfless parent (although maybe not so much considering my last statement) and not the selfish young thing, and both thoughts make me want to have a tantrum.
“This is your hour!” Judy screams. “Make every minute count!” Nothing is about me any longer. Nothing. Judy is right, this will be my only real hour and it is torture! I’m feeling a little choked up and am in danger of having a What Alice Forgot moment. I do not want to fall off my bike. A tear mingles with the sweat running down my face. I need to get it together. Breathe. I can’t breathe!
“It’s your final hill!” Judy encourages. “It’s here! Take it. Take it straight to the finish line. Don’t waste a second. Give me everything you got!” “People are People” by Depeche Mode is guiding us along and I’m back trying to climb a mountain. I really need to remember to call my father’s doctor. Not that it’s going to do any good. Like he says, his pain is like an onion, deal with the top layer and there’s another problem right underneath, all fresh and shiny, and just waiting to make him cry. He is my never-ending onion. A mountain with no peak. My brain is on replay, “People are people…” That’s right, and my father is never going to change, and I am never going to desert him and leave him alone, like I probably should, but I’m not, because “people are frickin people!” I’m crying now, my breath ragged, my huffing and puffing closer to hyperventilation. I’m close to losing it as we finally mount the hill, turn down our gear and sprint to “Free Falling” by John Mayer. Breathe. Get it together. Sing. Don’t think. I calm. I ride. I remember I need to pick up dry cleaning. And stop at the post office. And Michael’s pancakes.
Christina Aguliera belts out “I am beautiful” and I am caught in her chords. I’m steady and on pace. The finish line is in sight. “You’re almost there!” Judy screams. “One more minute and we’re racing to the finish! No one gets left behind! We go thru it together! Now GO!” I pedal furiously. The end is in sight. I’m almost there. I see nothing. I think nothing. I am a machine! I am beautiful! I am across! I made it! The music changes to “Time of my life” and I lower my gear so that I’m back on flat, easy road. My legs move automatically on the light gear and I guzzle down half my water. I am emotionally and physically spent and I am feeling… good.
After we stretch and clap for ourselves and Judy, I wipe off my face and then my bike and ready myself to leave. The spin shoes I shelled out $100 for go back in the bag. For now, the ride is over, but my head is still spinning.