A week or two after we got home from France, the Saint and I set out for our local recreation centre where I have a gym membership and he swims laps once in a while. We turned from our little lane onto the street, which is quite a main artery in our part of town, and I confessed that I was still thinking about those Adidas-clad Parisians and their Sunday trot.
“I could totally do that,” I decided.
I was remarkably confident for someone who has always hated running. It burns my lungs, not to mention my quads, and I was always the slowest of the slow, even in my slimmer teenage years when a nice half-mile run was the warm-up of choice for every PE teacher.
In spite of that unhappy running-baggage, I broke out of my walk with the Saint that day, and it felt good. I generated slightly more forward momentum than a stroll without the awkward lumbering jolt that is my usual gait when I try to go faster than a walk. It was only a shuffly version of a trot, really, and so much easier than trying to emulate, say, Denise McHale.
The Saint was still walking and he was keeping up with me just fine. He had, however, started to laugh.
“It’s oddly entertaining,” he said, eyeing me. “And yet embarrassing.”
Shuffle-trotting beside him, I grinned.
I’m still surprised that I was amused rather than daunted. I honestly didn’t care that the SUV drivers zooming past might think I’m a dork.
The Saint couldn’t stop laughing so he resorted to begging. “Please,” he pleaded. “Stop.”
I did and we walked the rest of the way together.
But the next time I started for the gym, I was by myself. Feeling adventurous, I broke out of a walk and into the Parisian shuffle, and kept it up the whole way. All of…well, I assume it took me less than the 20 minutes it takes to walk the distance. I hope.
But the time isn’t really the point. Nor is the fact that I’m quite certain I looked goofy. The fact is, I was doing something I had never been able to do before – I was moving faster than a walk, on my own two feet, and it felt great. No searing lungs, no burning thighs.
I was stoked.
At the gym, I did my usual workout: 20 minutes on the arc trainer, which looks like a 21st-century version of some Hieronymus Bosch poorhouse machine, then lifted and pressed various weights while perched on a ball or poised on one foot, then trotted ever so slowly home again.
When the Saint came in from work, I poured him a glass of wine and as I handed it over, told him, “I did the French trot to the gym!”
He raised the Cab-Merlot in a toast to my determination and nerve. “Good for you!”
“And,” I clinked my glass against his, “I figured out what it’s called.”
He sipped, waiting.
“It’s not really a trot,” I explained.
“It’s actually quite shuffly.”
“And it is French.”
And he toasted me again for being brilliant. Probably, if the truth were known, he was also silently praying that I never make him witness it again.