I’m still not comfortable in the locker room at the gym. Something about it just makes me think about Janean Hunt looking at me undress and asking me, “Why would you wear those pants?” Adults aren’t as vicious as teenagers, I’ve heard, but that doesn’t stop me from cringing when I have to change clothes. I’m torn. Should I hide in the changing room and make everyone think that I’m so self-conscious that I can’t let another woman see my body? Should I just change in front of everyone, subjecting myself to potential comments?
I decided to fake it until I got it. I will pretend that I’m beautiful. I will pretend that I have nothing to hide. I will keep pretending until it’s true. So, I go to the gym. I change into my jogging bra in front of all the other women. In some respects, I would rather change in front of men. They would be appreciative. Women can be ferocious. Every day, I take that leap of faith and hope no one will attack me or my pants.
Two months ago, she spoke to me. I had seen her before. She’s tiny. She wears a dark layer of mascara and eyeliner in the blackest of blacks. She has that perfect hair that never gets frizzy when she sweats. She spoke to me.
I like your hair.
I waited for the insult to follow it for only a second before I added my own.
It can be unruly. It took me so long to learn not to comb it.
It’s so thick and curly. You’re really lucky.
That was how quickly the conversation went. I was coming in while she was leaving. Over the last couple of months, I have seen her many times and greeted her cordially. I say hi. She says hi. That’s the extent of the relationship. I don’t even know her name. Last Tuesday, that all changed.
Hi. You’re breathing kind of heavy.
I am training for a 5K and today was a hard run.
I used to run a 5K, but they didn’t have it last year.
We talked about running and racing. I don’t have much time on my lunch hour, so I had to change clothes. I had to change clothes in front of her. I saved the jogging bra for last. It’s a compression bra that makes me look substantially smaller. Taking it off feels like releasing the innards of a Jimmy Dean sausage. I kept thinking that if I just did everything else, maybe she would go away before I had to release “the twins.” She kept talking to me, so I finally just took the leap of faith and changed right in front of her. I cringed, expecting some sort of catty response. Instead, the locker room became a confessional.
If the doctor knew that I was at the gym right now, he’d be angry.
I just had two biopsies taken from my left breast. That’s why I’m all bound up over here.
She indicated under her shirt. I couldn’t see the bandage, but I know that biopsies can be incredibly painful when the anesthesia wears off.
What are you doing here?
I just worked my legs. I didn’t do any upper body. I just have to exercise. It is such a stress reliever for me and I’m pretty stressed. They could have taken just one biopsy, but there were so many in there that they said they better take samples for both. They ended up giving me a hematoma, so they bound me up really tight.
You should go home and rest.
Yeah, I think I will.
I still don’t even know her name?