In Which Questionable Choices Are Made

When we last spoke, I was busy being coy about a foolish idea I’d had. At present, I’ve almost nearly recovered from it. In fact, I’ve gone through days of immobility and pain only to come out the other side a bit fitter, a bit saner, and with only the tiniest inkling of lingering ankle pain. How did I get here? Well somewhere around a week ago, I decided to celebrate July 4th in my very own idiotic way, with an unplanned ultra marathon.

I left the house just after seven in the morning and, by 7:30am, was on East River Walkway with a bag full of snacks, water, and suncream, ready to circumnavigate the city. I started my wander looping around the bottom of Manhattan through clusters of aging grannies from Chinatown doing their morning fitness and qigong routines. From there I strode up the side of the Hudson passing dog parks and cyclists all the way up to the very northernmost tip of Manhattan where I stood under rising span of the Henry Hudson, my fourth bridge of the day. As the day lurched towards 30˚C I wound my way through all the families of Harlem staking out picnic grounds for Independence Day barbecues. Spaces were marked by rope and caution tape, balloons and flags, and all the music of the Caribbean.

As I slouched down the East River I began to feel my own foolishness. I was sweating so heavily I couldn’t keep sunscreen on my skin and I knew I was beginning to burn, but I had to finish it. My legs were screaming with exhaustion and agony, but I had to finish it, and what’s more, I had to finish it in a respectable length of time. So I drove myself onwards, feet wrapped in tape, knees whining bitterly, and skin getting hotter by the second. As I honed in on the finish line, I began to run afoul of the veritable hoards of NYPD blocking off the riverside walk for the fireworks. Each detour was more agonizing than the last, but I was so damn close.

Within 15 minutes of my goal, I was stopped my two officers who wanted to ensure that I wasn’t bringing booze into the park. Conscious of my sweaty and somewhat fragrant state, I began to explain myself to them, only to find myself bonding with the pair over the shared sweatiness earned from having been out in the hot sun of the city since seven am.

As I finally passed into the shade of the Williamsburg Bridge, my 16th bridge of the day and somewhere north of my 50th kilometre in 8.5 hours, I could have cried. I sat on a bench listening to a woman hawking ice cold juice and water as I gently stretched and massaged my legs such that my moment of rest would not result in my transformation into a permanent statue on the East River. I was in agony but I was content. Not only had I completed my idiotic ultra marathon, but I had done it in 1.5 fewer hours than estimated with all of no training. When I finally peeled myself off the bench it was only to crawl the last 20 minutes home and throw myself into the shower There is nothing quite so lovely as a fresh cold shower rinsing clean a whole day’s dirt, sweat, and heat.

I did eventually make it out again a few hours later to pick up some supper from my favourite pizza joint, but I settled for listening to the fireworks from apartment. I had absolutely no interest in threading my way through the crowds to see twenty minutes of pyrotechnics.

The next morning I could walk, but only barely, and on the most shamefully sad swollen feet. After work I dragged myself shamefully to the chiropractor who probably thought I was an idiot but managed to avoid saying it in exactly those words. Once adjusted I walked home and collapsed. The following day was not much better and so I hobbled my way through work and headed to the chiropractor. While waiting for my appointment, I camped out in a nearby cafe with pasta and pineapple cider and devoured a book. Even when one’s whole body is exuding self-loathing and soreness, there is something so wonderful about reading a book at a sidewalk cafe in the sun.

Come Thursday, my muscles were finally starting to consider easing off of their complaints but my joints had no such intentions. So again I spent the evening in with my feet elevated hoping for the best.

By Friday I was stubbornly on the way to recovery and just in time too! An old friend from my first year undergraduate dorm was in town and had invited me to join her for dinner and a show. We had dinner and drinks at a very nice seafood restaurant on Union Square before hopping a Q down to Coney Island to catch a burlesque show. We bought our tickets and then went for a wander along the boardwalk while we waited for the doors to open. When we returned, after some most excellent catching up and conversation, we grabbed some drinks and headed into the show. But first, let me tell you about the drinks. Alongside all the usual bottles, this particular bar had Hard Root Beer and Orange Cream Soda. Both were 5%, neither tasted like it. They were basically soda with an extra dose of happy and if I ever feel like getting wasted, I know what to use.

Armed with our drinks, we climbed into the bleachers of the old freakshow theatre and got ready for for Tassel Mania! Yes, it was a wrestling themed burlesque show. Each round involved two performers in a head to head dance off to the same song at the same time and the audience chose the winner. It was a madcap night of fans and shimmies, fire and stripping, and the best $15 I’ve spent in quite some time.

Having only gotten home around 2:30am, Saturday was a bit of a slow day. I did laundry, cleaned the house, and picked up some fresh fish and vegetables from the Essex Street market before eventually making my way down to Brooklyn to drink coffee and talk dance. I was meeting my strictly partner from last weekend to plot future adventures in west coast swing. Conveniently enough we seem to have similar goals and expectations so I’m looking forward to lots of productive practice and learning just as soon as I get back from my upcoming whirlwind journey to the west.

I had hoped to spend Saturday night at salsa, but my ankle was still giving me terrible trouble, so instead I lurked around the house devouring documentaries and books. I suppose there are worse ways to spend an evening.

Finally, it was Sunday and I was honing in on healing with great enthusiasm. I spent my morning running errands: returning books I’d recently devoured, dropping old clothes at Goodwill, and managing all those other little bits of life admin that build up. Having made such progress on adulting, I celebrated with a stop by Cha Cha Matcha for matcha guava ice-cream. I noticed the place more than a month ago but had always been deterred by the length of the line, but I was finally tired of waiting. So I headed down, and as luck would have it, there was almost no line at all! I had only to wait while two social media mavens tried to decide (with the barista’s assistance) which drink would be the prettiest for their ‘grams. When I did get my ice cream, I will admit that I also instagrammed it, but I’ve yet to allow instagram to determine my taste in treats—I chose my ice cream for flavour alone.

After a very satisfying morning, I would end my Sunday with a wonderful dinner with friends. We arrived around 5pm and left ever so slightly before 9pm after hours of excellent conversation and food. I cannot describe how good it feels to be completely at ease with people even when discussing difficult things, and when there are arepas too? Well sometimes life really is just too excellent.

And now today I’m taking it easy again, eating my last piece of fresh fish and some avocados from the market and writing to all of you. This time next week I’ll be in Canada and I have to be honest, I might not be the most diligent blogger. Mea culpa?

Tired, foolish, and feeling just fine,
The Salsa Girl


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