my boxing session only lasts for an hour but its grueling, punishing stuff. i do it every day. sometimes if i really want to wear myself out, i do it twice a day. it's relentless, it's non-stop, it's on-going. i am forever moving and moving and moving for that hour. in the moment that i stop to catch my breath, there's someone leaning over me, yelling at me, telling me to get going, lift my feet, swing my arms, don't stop.
in that hour, my body is pushed to its absolute limit. my heart is pounding in my chest like thunder. it's slamming up against my ribcage so hard, my teeth are rattling. the sweat is pouring down my face, trickling down my back, soaking my clothes. i have to take my gloves off and wipe my face with my wrapped hands, i'm so overwhelmed. i look horrible, like a crackhead that just got slimed. all i see when i look in the mirror is that i can't seem to keep my hands up, that my torso is lumpy and weak, that my shoulders are way too stiff when i move and that i don't flow with any combinations.
loosen up and dance with me, gennaro my boxing instructor will say to me. you like to dance, don't you, love? i nod numbly and try to smile but i can only grimace. my boxing stance has me crunching down on my stomach muscles, and i'm feeling them more and more. he wants me to bounce, so my legs are slightly bent and moving all the time. always ready to duck, to shift, to block, to pounce, to move. keep it loose, he mumbles, and he shakes his shoulders to show me what he means. he thinks i'm making a tough mean face with this grimace. he imitates me for a moment, looking for all the world like a bad little boy that smirks as he goes. i thought it was cute that he thought he could see through me. in that moment, when he's making that face that supposedly looks like me, i love him like a fat kid loves cake. when he's done with me and i can't lift my arms, i tell him so. he is elated that my arms hang useless by my sides and says something pithy about how that means he's done his job. at the other end of the room, peter the negro awaits me. peter, whom i sometimes refer to as monty, is blood-curdlingly merciless and exacting in the way he wears me out, with this monotone that he mumbles through -- and an accent that's so thick, if i had a steak knife, i couldn't cut it in half. by the time negro is through with me, i have to take my puny arms into the steam room and convalesce before i can make it home.
apparently i have no stamina, no endurance, no strength. no nothing -- just this urge to keep going. and i have absolutely no idea where that's coming from. maybe it's stupidity. like a cow that doesn't come into the barn when it rains, i don't have sense enough to stop.
just when i think i'm headed toward something concrete physically in that room, just when i think i've learned something new and maybe i'm grasping this somehow, i come out swinging and my every shortcoming rises up against me like some hydra-headed beast from beyond. and there i am, swinging and it's not fast enough, pushing and i'm not strong enough, gasping for air like a fish out of water and i can't stand it, i can't stand the way my own body seems to be caving in on me and constantly letting me down. except it isn't letting me down. i'm simply surrounded by people who are way better at it than i am and who've been at it longer than i have and i'm just impatient to get there.
of course, i'd feel better about all of this if i had enough upper body strength to do a real, honest-to-goodness all the way down to the floor all the way up push up. but i can't. i have to bend my legs and do girl push ups. and when i do, all i can think is, what happened to me? i used to be strong...
and yeah, my clothes are getting downright baggy on me. but if i could lose some weight during this entire process, that would be frackin' super.
still and all, there are moments when my body hums and something clicks and i get it right and i think, wow. maybe i'm getting something out of this. maybe i'm growing. maybe i'm getting better at it. maybe that's what keeps me coming back.