Last Wednesday at my poetry class, I started a poem this way:
I did not count the stairs today
Though I would guess near 80
These stairs are meant for younger legs
With hormones jet-propelling
Our class meets on the third floor of an old high school here in Portland, up four flights of stairs from the basement entrance out of the faculty parking lot. Over the years I've learned to find too many stairs or lengthy hills daunting. Where once I bounded up them, now my age--and more particularly my weight--make them difficult. When did they become daunting? 30 pounds ago? 50 pounds ago?
I can get up them. That's not the issue. It's the heart-pounding, breath-gasping after-effect that is so disconcerting, and for some reason, so embarrassing. I show up in my weight every day. And no matter how I dress, I still look fat. But for some reason, I'm more embarrassed by the gasping breath at the top of the stairs than I am by the number size on my clothes.
And yet I do not push the incline on the treadmill I work out on 4 times a week. I push the speed and on a flat surface, my gait is swift and crisp but those stairs...