I like to walk, fast.
Years ago, during the divorce, I would walk five miles a day and then come home and lift weights; it was my sanity. Sometimes I would even go back out for a second walk because it calmed my head down, and I desperately needed that.
And during all this my friend Karen would walk with me, keeping up with my insane pace when no one else could, day after day. Karen, who really, really doesn’t like strenuous exercise and has described herself as being just like a good biscuit: flaky, southern, and soft. She’d stalwartly begin the walks with her face tight in deep concentration, struggling with the first half mile. By the end we’d be coasting on endorphins and the groove of our fast pace, and we’d be congratulating ourselves on the fabulous specimens our asses were.
And then something changed a few years ago, and walks with Karen have been a bit frustrating ever since. Karen now walks a few strides behind me, sort of like Prince Phillip walks behind the Queen, and yet nothing like that at all. I feel like a horse who hasn’t been given his head; I can’t go quite as fast as I need to. But one of the best things about the walks have always been the talks, and if I leave Karen behind, I’ll miss the talks.
“WHY do you do this?”
“Walk just the tiniest bit slower than I do?”
“Because if I walk beside you, then you just walk faster.”
“But you used to walk fast with me.”
“I used to be afraid to let you out of my sight. ”
And so it’s gone on for several years now, and I’ve slowed my pace. And I hate it.
“If you walk next to me, I promise I won’t go faster.”
“Yeah, I do. Why won’t you walk as fast as you used to?”
“You’re fine now.”
Our walks have become as complex as our long, deep friendship.
But recently Karen’s daughter Emily has started walking with us. Em has legs up to her shoulders, and while it looks like the girl is moseying, she’s moving at quite a pace. My pace. On Friday I decided to keep pace with Em, and opening the gates for all that physical energy to flow freely felt like such a relief. I hit the place where I feel my momentum is carrying me; where my body is functioning effortlessly, and it felt so good. I feel stong and confident at these moments, and strong and confident are feelings I can always use a bit more of.
And from about 20 yards behind me, ” I think I want to expand that front bed and mulch the whole thing in.”
“I can’t hear you.”
“I THINK I WANT TO EXPAND–”
“I AM NOT HAVING A CONVERSATION WITH YOU LIKE THIS.”
“YOU’RE SO COMPETITIVE.”
I stop and wait for Karen to catch up.
“It’s not competitive and you know it.”
Karen seems to begrudgingly agree, but I know she feels as frustrated with me as I am with her.
“I just like walking really fast. It feels so good! You know what it’s like?”
“No. Tell me what it’s like.”
“I’m not sure I like your tone.”
“Oh, just tell me,” Karen laughs. She’s the one who often comments on my tone.
“You know when you’re right at the edge of a really good orgasm, and it just won’t….tip? It’s right there on the edge, it’s so close! But you….can’t…quite…get there! You know how frustrating that is? THAT’S how I feel when I can’t walk fast. That awesome feeling is… SO…. close. And then nothing. If I can’t walk fast it’s so frustrating.”
Karen is processing this, and nodding.
“Do you really want me to suffer like that?”
“No, but I’m not sure I want to be any part of that either.”
But she speeds up a little, more than she has in a long time, and I slow down a bit, less than I’ve had to in a long time. Em slows down a bit, too, because she knows that when Miss Katie and Mom get talking and forget the kids are there, it’s quite a good time.