Monday, June 26, 2017

Dear Universe

I was standing in the closet looking for a t-shirt to match my workout capris.  We all know that time on the treadmill feels much better when your clothes match.  Since tomorrow is laundry day and I've done my time on the treadmill 7 out of the last eight days, my clothing choices were limited…as in I had one pair of clean capris.  And as it turned out, my choice of a matching t-shirt was equally limited.  I pulled out my Human Rights Campaign shirt that boldly says across the front, ALL LOVE IS EQUAL.  

I turned to Weber and said that I was not sure that I should wear this shirt to our local recreation center.  Though Dallas county and the city of Dallas are forward thinking, the first tier suburb in which we live is known for is backward views on many issues of social justice.

But the t-shirt matched.

And, today marks the two year anniversary of the Supreme Court’s passing of Marriage Equality Act.

And why did I care what anyone thought of the message on my t-shirt?

I wasn’t worried at all about anyone’s opinions of me; I was concerned about someone trying to engage me in some kind of heated discussion.  I wanted my physical workout on the treadmill to get my heart rate up, not an intellectual workout.  

Then I decided that I was up for the challenge should the opportunity present itself.

Surely no one would say anything to me.  I was only entertaining a bunch of ridiculous “what if” scenarios in my head for reasons that I can’t even really explain.

Off to the city recreation center we went.

I have a favorite treadmill.  It’s in the middle of the row of eight.  The fact that it’s in the middle is not the important thing here.  What's important  is that it's right under the air conditioning vent.  This spot is almost always available when I go to workout.  It wasn’t today.  I should have known right then that the universe was trying to tell me something.  I opted for the treadmill on the end at the far left, right beside a major thoroughfare around the gym.  It’s a treadmill I’d never used before today.  An opportunity for a new perspective.

I put my headphones on, deciding to walk to Mary Chapin Carpenter’s album The Age of Miracles today.  Is “album” even still a part of mainstream vocabulary?  I got the belt moving on the treadmill and hit play on my phone.  I was on my way.  I felt good.  I was moving at a good pace.  I was enjoying the music.  I was, as they say, in the zone.

It was about thirty minutes into my walk/run.  I was hot and sweaty (since I didn’t have the benefit of normal A/C vent).  My hair was falling out of my ponytail and was sticking to my face.  My legs needed to be shaved.  But, one of the perks of having albinism is that my leg hair is white too so unless it glimmers in the sunlight, no one can really see it so I can get away with the stubble that you dark-haired ladies can’t. :-)  I tell you all of that to give you a visual…

Then next thing I know, a gentleman, probably in his sixties but I’m terrible at judging age so maybe not, rolled up right beside my treadmill in his wheelchair and was looking up at me.  My knee-jerk thought was Oh great.  Here comes the comment and discussion that I so didn’t want to have.  I was brave and polite and pulled off my headphones and said “hi.”

He hesitated for a split second and then said, “You are very pretty, especially your hair.”

That is so not what I expected to hear that I all I could say was, “Thank you.”  

He rolled himself over to a weight machine and I put my headphones back on and walked another two miles.

I don’t really know what that interaction was all about.  I don’t know what he saw.  I don’t know why he felt compelled to say something to me.  I don’t know anything about him.  What I do know is that what he said was not at all what I expected to hear.  I had mentally prepared myself for a negative interaction, one where I would be on the defensive.  In so doing, I was totally unprepared for the interaction that I had.

Dear Universe,

Thanks for the lesson.