Monday, April 15, 2013

April 15, 2013

I am on the treadmill.

I am jogging.

It's not a meaningful choice. I woke up with the intention to jog today.

The other fellow in the gym, who looks like he might be half-black or Hispanic or maybe something else (is it racist for me to be wondering, or should I just be seeing him as male, muscled, with tattoos too detailed to parse from here decorating his shoulders and a simple cross painted below his C6 vertebra? I never know what's right or wrong to notice about people), turns on the TV to CNN. Without my permission, but whatever, it's a communal neighborhood gym. Wolf Blitzer is there, his fur nearly all white now. I remembered him as grayer, the last time something like this happened.

TERROR ATTACK are the words they choose to scroll under the same snippets of footage repeated over and over. My feet are thudding on the worn black tread. There's Kanye West or something in my earphones. And then the scroll says something about a reported dead eight-year-old victim. Because that is what matters about this.

No, no, no, no, no.

I always go back to the treadmill. I had an affair with the elliptical and a mere date with a reclining stationary bike, but the worn black tread turning and turning, showing me the manufacturer's logo there and then there, and there and then there, it's too hypnotic to resist. I return to it despite not seeing anything scenic or interesting while running, just the gray-and-black plastic of the sophisticated machine that measures my work and, in the case of this community gym, my own reflection, as there's a wall mirror right there, two feet from the nose of the treadmill.

I like the outdoors. I sort of like running, or in truth I like having gone running. Yet I don't like running outdoors. No control; no certainty of the pace or distance or heart rate without more machinery. The air could be wet or pollinated or smoggy. The gym is safer, simpler, more informative.

I have wondered if the treadmill is metaphorical for me.

There was terror experienced. I can see that from here, through all the wires and tubes that separate me from Boylston Street. But TERROR ATTACK is jumping to conclusions, and it makes me sad. The same few jolting seconds of footage makes me sad. This whole black day, Tax Day, Patriots' Day, makes me sad. Tired sad.

I was 19 when the towers fell and I had tears to cry then. It was a new and terrible thing to see. Now the Wolf is white and I am aching in every cell and thoroughly unsurprised, my feet thudding and thudding. I am useless here, on the absolute opposite side of this enormous nation, impotent and infuriated at my own inability to feel this, angry at every news report, every evil mind that has made me insensate.

In programming, if you can't fix a bug, you create something called a workaround. It's a temporary fix that allows for functionality while you look for a real, lasting solution. Wikipedia reports that workarounds may sometimes be as creative as actual solutions to the problem.

Today, this fact does not seem miraculous. Today, the treadmill turns and the red Lite-Brite numbers I've run climb without meaning. Whatever the intent, whoever is caught and roasted alive, there will be more workarounds in the years to come. I know it. I was 13 when the Murrah Building blew, and I was shielded enough to be surprised six years later. Today, all I can do is turn from the TV and not watch what kind of tagline they've slapped on this tragedy.

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