I had a jump-rope I took from the high school where my ex worked.
So I started jumping rope whenever I had nothing to do.
It was my antidote.
That would be my saving.
Anytime I felt bad, or had too much time, I'd go to the alley and jump rope.
If I was jumping rope, then I'd be jumping rope, and nothing else could be happening.
Hard to worry about anything if you had to keep jumping over a rope.
So today, when I went out to the alley, there was an older lady in multiple bathrobes and something wrapped around her head, pushing a steel shopping cart and looking through dumpsters.
She came up and stopped her cart by me.
We smiled at each other and said hello and she started going through the dumpster.
I started jumping rope.
Felt like I had to put on a show.
I had an audience, even though she wasn't even looking.
So I did a few high-jumps, bringing my knees all the way up to my chest, slapping the rope down twice before landing.
Couple criss-crosses—you know, the usual.
Then I got into a steady groove.
Cruised for a while.
Jumping just high enough to avoid the rope.
My heart beat hard but I breathed slowly to calm it.
It was a trick I learned—not to focus on legs, but your heart.
Heart, the motor.
Heart, the key.
The lady continued picking through the trash, accepting some items, refusing others, checking stuff already in her cart, so on.
Seemed like quite a process.
I kept thinking she was going to leave but she didn't.
My legs started to burn.
Throat felt thick and hot.
I felt ready to stop.
But then I started silently cheering on my heart.
Go, little heart, go.
Goddamnit keep going.
I'm not sure how much time passed, but I kept jumping.
I had to last.
It meant something.
Then the other leg.
Switching legs, running, whipping the rope side to side without jumping, back to jumping, couple high jumps, etc.
Blood flushing through my burning legs.
Eventually, the lady closed the dumpster lid and secured her cart again, tossing a tarp over everything.
I landed on both feet, hands on hips and breathing hard.
Felt like someone had crushed my legs, but in a sexual way.
The lady smiled at me and began pushing her cart, crunching and creaking over rocks.
'Thank you for performing for me,' she said as she passed.
'You're welcome,' I said.
And she went down the alley as I limped to the fire escape and crawled up.