Hello, Failure

Of all the enemies of literature, success is the most insidious

Wednesday, May 07, 2003

Failure of the Day: Muscle

Today I am joining the YMCA. I've been hemming and hawing about it since I moved back in town, to an apartment less than 3 blocks from the Richmond district branch. I'm signing up, finally, because I've been here long enough to know how my income from my new/old job hashes out in the new/old town, because my cholesterol is too high, and because my ass is too big.

This will be the third time I've joined the Richmond District YMCA in the last 10 years. It will be the first time that I will pay the full membership fee rather than the SSI po' folk next-to-nothing membership fee, though, and although I wouldn't kick up a fuss if it were still only $13 a month to be a member, I'm happy to pay the full price because doing that—like a huge number of other things I do—reminds me of the many differences between the old normal and the new normal.

I don't want to say that the new normal is better than the old normal because if feels like saying that denigrates not just my life during the intense period of my disability, but also the lives of other people with serious mobility impairments. I don't want to sell that out just because I'm happier in 2003 than I was in 1993.

I am happier now, though I would expect that would be the case whether or not I had gone into remission before marrying Chris. But the comparison between the normals are in much sharper relief since coming back to SF. So much sameness, so much difference. Or rather, the place is the same, and that highlights how different I am. Tommy's Joynt is still great, but I can carry my own tray now and that makes it different. It's still the same old Mission, stuffed with attractive hipsters, but I've got no reason to go there. None of them have anything I want, and that makes it really different.

And now the Y. The big difference isn't going to be the membership fee, of course. The last time I joined I had just gone into remission and had a LOT of atrophy to deal with. But most of that has passed, and now pretty much when I want to move a muscle, it just goes ahead and moves, and I don't have anything clever or funny to say about that at all. But I don't expect that this will translate into any sort of ease for me when I settle into the workout machines; I still have to do that thing, that doing something that my brain wants to do but that my body doesn't. I'm terrible at that. I kept waiting for the joy, which I imagined in terrific detail while I was crippled, that would accompany using my muscles again if I ever could. The joy never came; it still sucks to exercise. And that's because for however different I am now, on the most basic level, I am still the same person I always was. There are two ways I can look at that fact. The first way is the theme of my novel: A victory of the personality over the betrayals of the body. The second way is the theme of this blog: I haven't learned a thing.


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