disappearing in a cloud of dust

so i did start running. and i was faithful to the program. it’s not much, but for one normally unfit and lazy and bound to the couch, i’m doing a good enough job. i sweat about a bucket, but that would be the humidity and exhaustion combined. the next day it was the rain and exhaustion combined. that’s right, i didn’t let up even if the weather was getting the other runners down. i stick to the footpath, slushing a little through puddles, sometimes on the wet grass just where the gutter meets the street, make my way to one of the five-star resorts whose driveway forms a kind of cul-de-sac at the gate of one of the exclusive subdivisions.

the other day, i suddenly had this big slab of self-awareness drop on top of me like the proverbial anvil. in the midst of a good pace, i suddenly wondered how i look like running. are my shoulders square, is my neck drawn, is my back arched… wait, is my butt sticking out? then i abruptly switched to a brisk walk. because i got quite bothered by the idea of the sight of me running. a few steps on, a grandmother and her small grandson got ahead of me, so i picked up the pace again, feeling a little ashamed that two such persons were outwalking me. as i slacken by the pedestrian lane to let a utility pick-up through the intersection, the driver decelerates, shouts “you go on. can’t get in the way of your running” so i smile an out-of-breath smile and flash him a thumbs-up as i run across his path.

when the rain advanced to a strength you won’t call a drizzle anymore, i was about five yards from the nearest shed. i considered for a moment taking shelter until the rain passed, but i had such fierce loyalty to the program, i didn’t want to ruin the time i was going for. so i ran past the shed where the tourists followed me with a collective puzzled gaze. what is this asian lady doing?? naturally, that only served to increase my self-awareness and i wish i could crawl into a hole in the tree.

yesterday, the weather decided to do the exact opposite. it was 31 degrees the time i knocked off. with that heat, even changing into my trainers in the bathroom cubicle felt like an ordeal. and i began to imagine people looking at me thinking i must be crazy. i warded off the thought, i must just be insecure about senseless things, finished the training and jumped into our pick-up all sweaty and tanned. from the back seat, my husband’s friend asked in amazement, “man, how could you run in this heat?”

then i became paranoid again.

i am, obviously, thinking like a self-conscious pubescent who thinks the world gives a damn about what i’m doing. when, in fact, they couldn’t care less.

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