Seventy-Four Times Around the Sun

My mother is seventy-four.

She will not whisper it. She will declare it. Seventy-four. It’s not who she is, she says. It’s the number of times she’s ridden the earth around the sun.

And when my mother is seventy-four, she decides to join a CrossFit gym. She got inspired one night at dinner. We were out having sushi – me, my mother, and my best friend, who was a newly certified instructor for CrossFit.

And when my best friend talks about it, she talks about being strong and whole in your skin. And being able to move around the world the way you want to move.

My mother goes home, looks up a few CrossFit gyms. They power lift, heave medicine balls, do squat after squat after squat. There’s a lot of sweating and grunting. There are not a lot of seventy-four-year-olds.

Still, my mother’s curious. She’s never done anything like this before. She visits the gyms. She’s terrified, scared to death when she walks in and sees all the muscled, agile people. She could be their mother, their grandmother.

But the people are kind. They don’t treat her like a geezer, she says. So she stays. She does the workouts. She sweats barrels, goes scarlet in the face.

She doesn’t look forward to going. Most days, she trudges to the gym. Quietly telling herself, One foot in front of the other, one foot in front of the other.

But always, there’s some moment during the workout when she swells up with joy that she’s there.

Once, it was when they were outside doing rotations. The hardest working guy in class finished his rotation, then drove his pickup over, opened the doors, and cranked rock and roll good and loud for the class.

And other times, it’s when she’s scarlet-faced, can’t see through her own sweat, and still she’s moving, feeling stronger and more whole in her skin.

So my mother goes to the CrossFit gym. Goes one foot in front of the other. And this is how she will ride around the sun for the seventy-fifth time.

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