Crawled in to bed to take cover from the thunderstorm of a heaving chest, aching as it tried to contain a heart pounding fearfully against a mind’s clumsy efforts to discover the motivation for the beating. But my body was too tenuous a battlefield for such powerful organs, and, damp eyes struggling to peer beyond the ambiguous fears that caked me like over-saturated clay, I sunk into the blue-black tar of sleep.
I can’t remember whether it was the lightning or my alarm that woke me up, but as soon as I slouched out of bed, yesterday morning’s workout clung to my thighs like wet slabs of concrete and forced me to enter consciousness as I walked to the gym.
For forty-two minutes I let the sweating adrenaline of the chefs living in the online Chopped full episodes occupy my awakening body completely as I gave it up to the elliptical. I masked all of the latent anxiety of the night before in the demands of mechanized cardio.
Clothed in sweat, I welcomed the rain as I dragged my still-heavy legs back to my dorm. In the sensory communications of the dripping, sweating, dripping, sweating, there was no space for last night’s competitors for control of my soul to pick up their banners once again and continue their war. The heart was still racing racing racing after its abrupt separation from the machine. The mind was still calm calm calm without the provocative stimulaton of interpersonal conversation.
It was 7:09 once I was indoors. I showered slowly, hoping to extend the morning peace as long as possible before the sun rose somewhere beyond the rainclouds and the day could not be ignored.
Back in the room, the pile of clothes I had gathered the night before waited anxiously like a dog waiting for a walk. I ignored them. Wrapped in my towels and still damp, I laid in bed and scrolled painstakingly through every information feed I belong to until somehowI was fully dressed, my backpack scraping our RA’s latest inspiration board that had appeared overnight. It was empty except for one contrived quote about believing.
What could I put on that board? What actually inspires me to work anymore? What is my goal?
“Do what makes you come alive. Do what makes you come alive. Do what makes you come alive…” pushed me down the steps. I felt it again: brain sky heart earth thundering cracking slipping in the mud of my fears.
My eyes looked vacantly down as out of my utterly weather inappropriate wide leg jeans peeked cramped black-rubber-clad toes, tenderly searching for an unpuddly path to the education building that housed my 8 AM class, and I saw them.
I was used to worms. I had seen and smelled them for years of early morning walks to the bus stop. But then they had just been passive details of the asphalt whose scent reminded me of Naples on St. Patrick’s Day. Today, they stretched out like daffodil stems, hungrily determined not to drown in the April showers. Their uncurling bodies painted long delicate veins in the sloppy sidewalk as they unwrapped themselves into their full length just like the stubborn pieces of the rattlesnake that French chef had tried to cook in tightly coiled little packages for his Chopped appetizer round that had been the first 20 minutes of my workout.
Just a few bundles of nerves for a brain and these worms had wriggled boldly out of the safety of the dirt and on to the pavement for a reason that frankly I could not identify if my college entrance depended on it. Tomorrow most of them will be shriveled up into thick stains, darkening the pavement alongside old pieces of gum, but today they are alive. Today they are five separate hearts beating together towards a single purpose without any consideration of the cost.
My frivolously wide pant bottoms swung quietly around my ankles and swished the worms a quiet salute as I tiptoed my way across their battlefield and into my day.