a ~ Time to turn back and descend the stair

A friend in college whose name I don’t remember used to run the stairs. He’d pick the highest building – and at UMass the buildings towered over the geography of western Massachusetts – and run up, then down, up, then down. Over and over. He was in pretty good shape. I wish I remembered his name. His smile was calm and his apartment smelled of orange juice. We were paired up for a class assignment and he met me off the bus in Northampton and offered me part of his bagel. I refused. That was the year I didn’t eat much. I was a freshman and in the midst of discovering the giganticness of the world and part of my reaction was panic over the idea of eating in front of people. I survived mostly on packages of processed food bought at the campus minimart, scarfed down in bed after my roommate had fallen asleep. Sad, I know. Not a little pathetic. Mostly I’ve forgiven myself. I have a feeling that this friend whose name is a flash of white in my brain may have been able to help if I’d shown any indication that I needed help. He was self assured and possessing of that solid core that is rare, even in people twice the age he was then. His father knew W.H. Auden. Maybe had lived with him for a while? Maybe that was someone else. College for me was a time for intense connections that I was rarely able to turn into enduring relationships. Sad, I know. Not a little pathetic. Mostly I’ve forgiven myself. I think of him running the stairs when I climb our own small staircase lugging a basket of laundry or a crying child. I wonder how many laps of my own house I’d have to do to equal his workout. This is not a story of regret. I don’t think of him every time I climb our stairs. I don’t wish I had slipped into his life, into his apartment, like a meager kitten who needed someone to teach her how to lap milk from a dish. I would like, though, some version of that strong inner core. I would like to know that doing anything is its own reward. I would like my smiles to be more calm. And I wonder if that comes from running the stairs.




About andi

Writer, editor, wrangler of small boys and dogs.

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