“I want to go home, I want to go home,
Oh Lord, I want to go home,
Last night I went to sleep in Detroit city,
And I dreamed about those cotton fields and home,
I dreamed about my mother,
dear old papa, sister and brother,
And I dreamed about that girl,
whose been waitin’ for so long,”
Detroit City– Bobby Bare
It is late afternoon and my eyes are closed and I am taking a moment to collect myself. I am standing inside my garage staring at a gray suitcase. It is an American Tourister that has been around the world. It is probably 20 years older than I am and is the first suitcase I remember seeing. As a young boy I found it fascinating to open and close it.
For years that bag went with us on family vacations, but before that it belonged to my father. It was one of the bags that he took with him when he left for the Peace Corps.
I am standing inside the garage because I have fifteen minutes to engage in pumping iron. Fifteen minutes to get the blood pumping and to try and turn back time. The garage serves as my man cave. Inside my home it and the bathroom are my sole refuges, the places that I can seek quiet in.
Time is moving far too quickly and I am feeling pressured. It is like an anaconda that has wrapped its coils around my body and is squeezing. The pressure is relentless and I can feel small beads of sweat forming upon my brow.
They say that the constrictor family of snakes wait for you to exhale and then squeeze you again. The obvious goal is to choke you to death, but in the interim they are going to make it as difficult as possible for you to breathe.
But I am not easy prey and refuse to go down. I lift weights so that I have the physical strength to wrestle with the snake and I am not afraid to use my teeth. They say that snake tastes like chicken and I am willing to find out.
I like listening to the weights clinking and clanking. The sounds of the metal against the concrete helps to relax me. In my mind I see that 20 year old I used to be. Six pack abs and rock solid muscles throw the weights around like they are nothing.
A neighbor calls out to me and reality smacks me in the face. The garage door isn’t completely closed and they have spotted me. I start to giggle. I see that 20 year old but I know that isn’t what they see. The 20 year old didn’t have any extra padding around the middle. He didn’t lift weights next to a high chair or stroller. There weren’t boxes filled with china or an old dresser floating around either.
I don’t quite look like Homer Simpson but I don’t look like the 20 year-old any more. That is partly why I am lifting like this. I am frustrated with what I see in the mirror. Tired of tight fitting pants and mystery aches and pains.
Twenty years ago I woke up and stood straight up.Now it takes a moment to work the kinks out. I stand up and look like a question mark. A shift here and a wiggle there and the body is back to exclamation mark status.
Workout is almost done.I grimace in frustration.I am impatient. I want immediate results. I want my body to respond as it used to. Can’t quite accept that it won’t. Can’t help but believe that if I feed and treat it properly I can get back what I lost.
Maybe not everything, but most. That is one of the gifts of age. I know what I want. I have goals and objectives that I am working on. A plan for regaining those things that I once had and obtaining that which I still desire.
Still, it is sometimes hard not to beat myself up over the mistakes. Hard not to kick myself about things that I could or should have done. If I was a smarter man I would have listened to my own advice and I wouldn’t have to grit my teeth like this.
Still. it is what it is and all I can do is try my best to make the most of my time.