As dozens of scattered droplets, falling gently yet surely across my tired body, I kept my eyes tightly shut until the warmth made me accept the morning. I let the stream splash against every patch of skin and ring of hair, saturating the impurities and freshening the scent that’s so distinguishingly mine. Along with the grime from these filthy pavements and soiled city streets, I let the clean wash away my worries, too. I exhaled my frustrations off my brow, the heaviness off
my heart and the ache that causes tension from my bones to my emotions. Though invisible to anyone but me, I saw the muck swirl its way down the drain, leaving me wide awake and shining in the rising sun across Amsterdam.
I let my shower cleanse it all away.
In motion with the bright beats of the pre 9 a.m. crowd, I sauntered in tall wedges from my padlock door to the closing ones of the subway. The rhythm floated through my vibrant blue hi-lo skirt, perfectly in sync with the early August breeze that’s as rare as its lovely. I let the music play as I dared to close my eyes on the subway ride, knowing that a sudden stop or a passenger with unruly intentions could cause a detour I wouldn’t appreciate. The harmonizing voices serenaded me all the way to work, singing words I yearn to hear from the man I can’t wait to meet one day.
I let the music take me to a place where my dreams have lyrics.
I listened to all of them, all around me, near and far, chatter away. About the weather (hot), about their weekends (nice), about their weeks (busy), about the men they have and wish to have (plenty!). I imagined their pink nails tapping away at the keys, putting something in motion while sipping the coffee that’ll keep them awake. I watched their lips move and their eyes light up, full of ideas and excitement, sleepiness and interest. I spoke the language of a manic Monday morning in brief sentences and tenured phrases, meant to show empathy and understanding, meant to put us both on the same page.
I let the ones I love talk away my day.
Praying that delays and rain stray, I counted the minutes until I’d arrive at my stop. I walked quickly in those wedges that made my ankles sore and promised them that soon, they’d be out of these painful pieces and into the running shoes that mold to their every curve. I breathed deeply and slowly as I rounded the first mile, watching the life of the park unfold around me. The soccer players kicked, the volleyballs bounced, the basketballs spun, the bikers did circles around me and the runners nodded as we passed. All sweating, all moving, all feeling it all roll off of us, knowing the only thing we need to focus on is one step and then the other. One more step, one more mile.
I let my run, run away with me.
I watched the couples walking back from the park — some on one end of a leash, others gripping a stroller, many just holding onto each other — and I tried not to smile. I felt nighttime arriving for the first time in months, and that green reflecting top meant to protect me, wasn’t warm enough, even after 40 minutes of jogging. I glanced from lightpost and traffic stop to those glittering eyes of a duo so obviously in love, and I tried to figure out which shined the brightest. I took my time picking up fruit from the grocery store, helping someone older and slower in front of me and striking up a conversation with the clerk who rarely gets thanked. I walked around the block, past those men sitting on stoops, those ladies selling frozen yogurt and the kind homeless man who knows me by name, and though I was sweaty with makeup running down my face and my toes tired from all their work today, I gave them all a smile. I made sure they felt noticed, even in this boisterous land.
I let my city restore my faith, again and again.
Finally, I made it back to the place I started. Trying hard not to obsess bitterly about the lack of text messages or the conversation gaps I wished weren’t so, I put away my iPhone. Hoping whatever it is, however it’s going can wait until I open my eyes in the morning, I sat down my Blackberry to let it charge. I peeled off those running clothes and shoes, I freed my face of its daily armor. I felt the crispness of my sheets, the softness of the bed I bought with the money I made doing the things I love the most. Without the fuss or the must, the paths to follow, the people to know, the city to invigorate or irritate me, without the rushing and the gushing, the loving and regretting, without all of it in between — there was only one thing left at the end of the day:
And I thanked the powers above that I was enough. That I can endure and I can slow down, I can embrace and I can relate. I can go and I can move, I can relax and I can inhale. And yet, after all that a day puts me through, time and time again, over and over — I can still be the same me that walked out that door…ready to face whatever is in front of me. And whatever will ever come my way.