Friday, September 3, 2010

Is it hot in here or what?

Back in July, when the heat was almost unbearable, New York Magazine announced that the month was on track to be the hottest in the city ever. Unfortunately (or fortunately – depending on how miserable you were), the month cooled down at the end and ended up second to 1999.

The summer of 1999 was sandwiched between sophomore and junior year and I spent most of it partially submerged in water. My days started with a workout at the pool, continued to lifeguarding and teaching swim lessons at the local pool and then ended with more trips to the pool and the lake.

As a sixteen year old girl, an age fraught with self-consciousness and uncertainities, I was running around in nothing but less than a yard of spandex and maybe a rubber cap and goggles. At the time, I really didn’t think anything of it. The Speedo was the uniform of my life.

But fast forward to today, and I rarely venture out in a skirt that falls mid-thigh. Granted my job now requires a much more conservative look, but even when I’m out of the office, I still refrain from the too short, too revealing, and certainly the too tight.

And then July came to 2010 and an air conditioner didn’t come to my apartment. Not only did I have to deal with July, but I had to find a way to train for my marathon in a concrete sauna. At first, I just continued on with the tried and true methods, but every run felt like the pavement had melted into quick sand. At some point the heat started to eat away at my sanity and I decided that it was time to go shirtless. Running with nothing but a sports bra and a pair of shorts felt….naked. But finally, I was able to welcome the heat into my runs. That day I ran the fastest I had run in a month.

That run felt great and I never thought a second about it again, until I heard that this might be the hottest July in the City. In the moment, it was all about surviving the run, but when I heard that the last time it was this hot was eleven years ago, I couldn’t help but draw a comparison.

In some weird way, the heat had helped me come back to the innocent, unabashed, uninhibited, unafraid little girl I was so many years ago. At first, I just thought that it was the fact that I had lost some weight and was finally comfortable in my skin. But given all the Vogue and Elle magazines littering my apartment, I know that I will never be satisfied with my figure until I look like Heidi Klum. (I’d even take Heidi’s pregnant body.)

I left my shirt behind that day because after eleven years, I finally once again saw my body as a vessel of strength and power instead of a fleshy form to be admired. I could sit around and sweat through the heat, but with the marathon looming, I realized that I had to throw inhibition to the wind and just run.

Stock market bubbles burst, one hit wonders become gay and tabloid jokes, and little girls grow up. Yet for all the time we spend laughing at our mistakes of yesteryear, there is something to be admired about the time when we were unafraid of what others thought. If I can reclaim even just a moment of that, then I am finally mature enough to know to never let it go.

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