This evening, my boy Charlie was getting ready to head out to his dance/etiquette class, that unique-to-our-town ritual that involves hundreds of teens gathering weekly to learn dance moves and manners. It’s pretty awesome.
As he was giving himself one last inspection, Charlie noticed some length on his hair, a “rat tail” as he called it, and he asked me to give him a quick trim.
First off, let me say that one of the best parts of this age, the male early teen, is that suddenly, appearances become, well, meaningful. Taking an interest in hair and clothing, having an awareness of body odor and teeth. It’s very nice indeed, and always such a pleasant surprise when these interests spring up overnight. One minute you are a pre-teen going days without a toothbrush, the next you are a gentleman in constant search of Scope.
So there we stood in my bathroom, I trimmed up the back of his hair and had taken a damp washcloth to brush off the shoulders and back of his blazer. I reflected, as I gently worked, how this was one of those moments in time, a sweet memory that years from now my boy may look back on fondly — or maybe just remember it as a flash. Us standing there, him and his mama, working together to get him ready for an adventure.
And then it sort of hit me, as I saw this event through the eyes of future me, that present day Rach was looking decidedly rough. In a perfect world — in memory land — I would be wearing some nice cropped pants, a crisp white blouse, my pearls and lipstick. As it was, I was wearing my running clothes. That’s not really a big deal of course. It’s just that I had not had a chance to jump in the shower and clean up from my run…ten hours before.
Yes, I looked in the mirror at the two of us standing there and I saw a handsome young man with a suit coat and tie and I also saw…well, a troll. Not really, yes really. TEN HOURS! Ten hours post run and I’m still wearing the same clothes and sweat and matted pony tail. I spent the entirety of today wearing sweaty running clothes which obviously were no longer truly sweaty (because we all know sweat dries…eventually). But still. Is that any kind of excuse I ask you?
I stood there watching that person (who in the world?!) wipe off my son’s blazer, and I reflected on all the great and wonderful things I had done today, in these very clothes. Looking this very good.
1. I ran. Hence the running clothes. Black tight running capris. Pink running jacket. White running headband.
2. Then, because I was out and about already (I had run over by Isa’s school), I popped into my favorite consignment shop to grab pants for Isa and Henry. In damp running clothes. With sweaty hair, minus the headband. At that point I was FRESH off my run and feeling fine. Didn’t care how I looked. Or smelled.
3. Came home and wrote a book foreward. Yes, a foreward for a book — which was quite an honor and a bit of a challenge. Nailed it. In my running clothes.
4. Made lunch. Wearing the clothes of the run.
5. Had a phone meeting about a retreat I’m speaking at next weekend. Took some notes, finalized my talks. Running clothes on mah body. By now I had removed the pink jacket but still had the capris and a body wicking tee. Looking good, all runner’d up. Kicking butt. Taking names. Run. Ning. Clothes.
6. Loaded up and drove back out to get Isa at school. Same outfit as this morning, now with more grease!
7. Came home and opted to skip the shower in lieu of cleaning the upstairs frat house. Ended up forgoing any form of bodily cleanse to wipe down bathrooms, floors and other flat surfaces. House looking good, me not so much.
8. Time to get the boys from school — in my running clothes! Made sure to get there late enough to be in the very back of the carpool line. Avoided any and all eye contact with fellow parents. Running clothes, running hair, running face!
9. Let’s pretend No. 9 didn’t happen, the part of the day where I let the boys talk me into taking us for a drink and snack (in my running clothes). We all walked into the gas station, I tried not to stand still. If they can’t get a clear view of me, they won’t catch on that I’ve been in this outfit since 7 a.m.
10. Home. To piano. Back for dinner. Feeling tired and disgusting but gonna keep pushing through. No time to shower, just don’t look at any shiny surfaces, avoid any and all glimpses of Self. Running clothes, yup still there.
11. Served dinner, by now have switched from capris and techy tee into something more cottony and forgiving. Still no shower. Hair and face feeling the burn.
12. Beautiful rite of passage moment with Charlie. Catching view of tired old me. Ten hours and counting since I ran. No. More. Excuses. And yet…
13. Load up in the van. Pick up Charlie’s friend, head down the highway to dance class. Running clothes, running hair, running body. It’s all there, begging for mercy.
14. Drop off the boys, call my sister on the way home. Thirteen-minute drive home and I use her to distract myself from complicated feelings of weariness and malaise. Pull in the driveway, the finish line close.
15. Can’t take it no more. Fly to my room, release the blessed running gear from its call of duty and wash the day away. It was a great day, but no need to carry it with me. I like souvenirs and all, but not like this. Let’s not do this again anytime soon.