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Spring Cleaning…Revisiting the Past (Part II)

April 10, 2012

It’s official. I’m moving to Pittsburgh! And while the last month has brought an onslaught of paperwork and introduced a new level of anxiety, the sheer excitement of the next step is rather overwhelming.  Adding to that excitement, is the fact that I recently found a new place to live (in the ‘Burgh), which means…it’s time to get ready for the big move. I, as many, am anti-moving…the packing, the unpacking, bleh…but it’s for a good cause (i.e. my livelihood) so in the spirit of moving forward, I’m embarking on the “Deep Clean 2012.” Today has largely been spent in my office, surrounded by four years of notes and textbooks…though I stumbled upon a folder entitled, “Georgetown Papers.” It was here that  solid hour was lost, as I reread some of the things I wrote 5 years ago (WHAT?! 5 years already?!). The first paper I pulled was a stream of conscious piece, modeled after Virginia Woolf’s “Mrs. Dalloway,” the surprising part though, was that it was about medicine (admittedly I shouldn’t be surprised, but I was…when I realized what I had written). In any event, I know I’ve been putting up stuff that was written in the past, but this is really a blast from the past…a CMcD original from 2006…(again, keep in mind, this is stream of conscious)


   There was something serene in the sound.  The black tubing connecting inside to out, the ultimate penetration: this is what we all strive for, she thought, knowing what was on the inside.  She saw the skin recoil as the cold metal was lifted and replaced (moved a little to the left).  There was a different sound now, not the quiet swish of air, but a steady rhythm of pounding blood.  The sudden clasp of closing valves and the ensuing surge were like waves gently lapping against a dock.

    In silence they carried the shell to the water.  The sharp (wood-covered) fiberglass dug into lean shoulders, but no discomfort was perceived.  Raising it high above their heads, it was a smooth roll to the dock, a soft noise only as they let her gently rest on the surface.  Sneakers were removed and tossed into a Rubbermaid tub.  Rainwater from the previous night seeped into her socks – this was the beginning: three months ago the ice had lung to cotton, holding it tight for warmth.  She stepped cautiously onto the deck and unwound the oarlock, slid the oar in and tightly secured it.  Facing forward she waited for the command, then lowered herself into the boat.

   It hadn’t always been this easy, the complexity of the motion had threatened to challenge her even on the old machine.  She made it hum like the others, but her legs still jerked up a millisecond too soon, and her arms still pulled with just a little too much force.  But she’d always remember the day it worked, the day that all eight of them were perfectly aligned.  She watched each stroke of those two thousand meters in the wall-to-wall mirror.  She watched them all make the steady, yet forceful change in tempo.  And she felt the acid fill her legs with each push in the third five hundred.

    They had built for this moment, months on the machine keeping track of numbers, every second making a difference.  Spring break had brought endless hours of tuning dynamics and honing team chemistry.  Each race to this point had merely been a practice, a test to ensure their unity and desire. Her heart beat faster than any time before, and the acid in her stomach made a forceful attempt at expelling itself, but she remembered, “mind over body.” She breathed deeply to the sound of “Attention!” It seemed so distant.  She looked at the body in front of her, the “C,” the shoulders, the slight shiver of anticipation. “Row.”

   Their oars slapped the water in perfect unison.  They had done this a thousand times, but they had each only been here once.  The oarlocks snapped harshly with each continuous motion, everything was gone, only motion mattered.  It was simple really, just the one repetition she knew so well, the one motion they had to execute. “Breath” – she had almost forgotten, but the command was loud and firm, she sat up straighter.  A momentary glance sideways saw a black tip edging toward her seat in the next lane, “Push harder on the next one,” she thought. “Up in two.” This was it, the final move, as intricate as chess but requiring unparalleled strength.  It was a fight for consciousness.  The pain no longer mattered, the sounds were no longer heard, only eight breaths, eight minds focused on one thing.  The oars slammed down and with one final propulsion she pushed. 

    Labored breathing ceased as they grabbed hold of each other.  She could feel the steady but rapid flow, the paced pumping.  The sheer exhaustion filled with elation, the nervousness yielding to excitement. 

    The girl coughed.  She was reminded that this little one was not filled with excitement: her rapid heartbeat was sheer nervousness.  She reminded herself to smile, and to warm the metal next time. 

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