reading and writing the poetry and stories of our people and places

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

RGHS in the Evening

After dinner, on the spur of the moment, I ask Geen if she wants to go to the track. She says yes.

Does my question have anything to do with Kris telling me at dinner that she has lost 10 pounds? Yes. We're betting free lodging in Vegas in December that we can beat the other in losing weight. We each wanted to get fit (or fitter, depending on how I'm feeling). I suggested the contest part. My Mom did a similar one about 30 years ago and I fantasize about winning the top prize like she did. I weigh what I did when we weighed-in in June. I'm not on the path to victory, but I still have 4 months.

We pull up. There are lots more cars at Rio Grande High School than when we came to play tennis a few weeks ago, but it doesn't look like as many people. There's space between two other cars, but it's not marked parking. Back in my City, I'd worry about a meter maid coming out of nowhere on a Cushman and adding to my parking ticket collection. Here, I just make sure I don't roll over the broken glass.

We walk over a large pipe on the ground that a little girl is using as her kitchen counter. There are men, women, girls, and boys on the track. Everyone is wearing work out clothes and jogging or running shoes except us. Geen asks if I want to go against the tide of everyone else. I fall into place and start walking. Geen points out the two young women ahead who are walking their chihuahuas on leashes. We laugh. As we walk around the first bend, I see the No Dog Walking sign. We walk on. We see two women walking backwards to our, the community's, flow. They don't seem to care though they are wearing appropriate gym clothes and shoes.

Geen and I walk and talk about how we hate jogging and running. I clarify that I hate those activities until I don't. I mean that I love walking. I could walk for miles forever. I could. But when I've been walking a lot, after a while, I want to run. Well, walk very fast then faster and faster until I'm jogging not quite at the speed of running. I don't think I've run since Uncle Joe was chasing me down 18th Street when I was a kid. That was a reason to run. What helps me jog is I keep a pace. 1, 2, 3, 4 inhale. 1, 2, 3, 4 exhale. 1, 2, 3, 4 inhale. 1, 2, 3, 4 exhale.

As we round the last bend, I notice a young man standing alone in the middle of the track. He is lit up by the towering lamp. He crisply maneuvers a rifle in various positions from his right shoulder to left with momentary stops in front of his chest. Over and over the same clean movements. I remember the young men from Mission High School's boys' drill team. Every Wednesday that I wore a green plaid skirt, I admired their jackets, trousers, and patent leather shoes. I remember watching them practice in the courtyard after school. The loud clangs of metal butts bouncing on concrete, the clipping of canvas straps hitting wood. Rifles carefully raised then wood stock banging against wood stock. All in step. And when they weren't, dropping for 10, 2o, 50 push-ups. I remember the day when other mere privates and I were allowed to shoot in our school's rifle range. I whisper, Right shoul-der...arms! Left shoul-der...arms! Pre-sent...arms!

By the end of my jogging/running/breathing lesson, we approach the pipe again. There are six small round and expertly patted mudcakes on the pipe in front of the little girl. A truck pulls out of the parking lot before us. Another two pull out while we are settling into the car. Two more vehicles turn on their lights and wait for me to turn around. Those four lights follow us out.

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