Saturday, November 17, 2007


Yesterday morning stepping off the train and walking across the campus, the skies was filled with roiling dark gray clouds. The cold rain was coming down and the wind was blowing and chasing the leaves out of the trees like flocks of frightened, brightly colored birds, swirling crazily through the air.

By the time I headed home, walking across the Mass. Ave bridge, night was falling. Looking west, the last of an autumn sunset was outlining the horizon. A thin band of glowing orange, the few clouds left, a deep purple and the sky going from a deep vibrant lapis to deepest indigo, where a waxing crescent moon somewhere between quarter and half hung like a lantern. A Maxfield Parrish sky.

To the east the sky was black and the skyscrapers downtown were still lit. Yellow and pale orange light still illuminating the windows, red lights on top of the buildings warning air craft and making the city look like a giant Christmas ornament. Off in the distance the Zakim bridge barely visible in the half light, looking like it was spun from gossamer. The contrast at that fugitive time between twilight and night was magical.

This morning I went off to the gym first thing. When I got there, there was no one yet there and I began the days torture. As I started going through my routine people began to trickle in.

I went upstairs to use one of the machines. A member I had never seen before was there. He was young handsome fellow, though handsome in that regular featured sort of way that I have never found all that appealing, but he was handsome none the less.

Observing him as I rested between sets, he was doing the set round on the machine circuit. One of those people who either because of the blessings of youth or good genetics was able maintain an impressive physique just using machines. I will admit to more than a twinge of envy. I have to be unrelenting with the free weights or it's all over. I finished my sets and headed back downstairs to the free weight room.

As I was working my way through another set, one of the regulars I am familiar with came in. I have seen him for the past 2 years that I have gone to my gym. He is 80 if he's a day. He literally totters around and looks incredibly fragile. But he comes every day, like clockwork. He works out with the free weights and it is a bit frightening at times, he looks so frail. Yet he persists.

As I watched him out of the corner of my eye, I thought to myself, will I have that much determination in 25 years? What, I asked myself does he see, when he looks at me? Does he feel the same resigned envy that I felt looking at the young fellow upstairs in the bloom of youth, able to maintain a handsome physique with what seemed to me, so little effort? Is that what I look like to this old gentleman?

It was a bit like the day yesterday. Two extremes. A cold grey rainy morning, with its own beauty, and then the clear cold walk home, walking a bridge between the end of a day and the beginning of a night.