November 08, 2017

For Angry Women Who Like To Run Naked

 

This is for those of you who might want to read a book about a woman who runs naked along a river because her Anger Management counselor says she has to do something to get rid of her anger.

As told through the eyes of Jeanne Stewart:

 

I was hesitant to run naked.

It is not something I can say is in my comfort zone.

It is not something I’ve done before.

Still.

I had told Emmaline and the others at Anger Management class that I would do so.

Now, the first thought racing out of your mind might be that being a naked woman outside your home isn’t safe. You might also say that a naked woman running alone alongside a river isn’t safe.

You might further say that a naked woman running alone by a river, at night, is asking for trouble.

You are right.

But, you see, I had agreed to do it to take me off my path of anger. As life did not seem especially precious to me, I was feeling a little reckless.

 

 

So I had pancakes for dinner at the cafe with a bunch of chatty, cheery townspeople who somehow soothed my soul, and listened to Donovan sing his favorite three opera songs, dedicating them to his “secret love.”

Afterward I promised to come to a retirement party for Bill Brayson on Friday night and a bowling tournament on Sunday.

(I tried to ignore the warm gush in my body at these invitations. I was very rarely invited to do anything in Chicago except to get more work done, find more clients, and deal with artsy creative types who insisted on doing yoga in the hallways, brought their giant dogs to work, or hummed when they got nervous.)

I did not share with my new found friends my further plans for my evening. Around 10:00 that night I pulled on sweatpants and my sweatshirt and headed to a private place along the river.

Here, I could still see the trail, but there were no homes.

The rays of the full moon slanted through the trees. It smelled like pine and river water and wood and I sucked in a deep breath.

I took off all my clothes and put them in a small backpack. I retied my tennis shoes. (I do not consider wearing tennis shoes as breaking the rules.) I knew I should feel embarrassed standing there naked by the rushing river, but I didn’t. In one avenue of my mind I realized I’d lost my marbles.

I don’t have huge boobs, so it didn’t bother me that I would be bopping along without a bra. I looked up at the star studded sky again, catching a glimpse of the full moon. It was clearly a wild night for werewolves and weird women on wacky quests of self – awareness.

Overhead an owl hooted and somewhere on the other side of the river another owl hooted back.

I shifted my backpack and started into a slow jog. From having run this trail on numerous occasions, I knew that it went a long ways, and I had a pretty good idea when to head back around.

I figured I’d run about thirty minutes out, thirty minutes back in.
That should satisfy Emmaline and the rest of the angry group.

My legs jumped into their usual pace.

As I ran I tried to block out everything but the cool, velvet air, the whispering trees, and the rush of the river. Soon I was sweating, but I kept running.

I peeked at the moon and the Big Dipper through the tree branches as I ran and ran. I knew I had run for more than thirty minutes, but I kept going, my breath coming out in pants, my heartbeat even and steady, the sweat pouring from my pores.
I thought of all the lousy men I’d dated and I thought of Slick Dick and his stupid lawsuit. I made myself sprint.

I slowed down as I thought of my “pointless” speech at the convention, and how I’d worked so many years of my life away for, let’s see, nothing. I sprinted again.

I thought of Johnny and Ally and slowed down, glancing at the night sky to say hello to them.

I thought of my sweet mother, and the cancer that ate away at her body, and I blinked the tears out of my eyes but didn’t bother to wipe them off as they mixed with my sweat.

I ran and ran.

And ran.

I careened around a curve on the path at a sprint and ran straight into a towering, steel hard, barricade.

The steel hard barricade made a sound like this – “Ooof.”

Next, it stumbled and I stumbled over it. We were pressed together tight. It landed first and I landed on top of it, spread – eagled, bone smashed against bone.

Did I mention that I am a woman, running alone, at night, naked, by a river?

All of my air rushed right out of my lungs and I gasped and struggled to find that elusive oxygen.

The steel hard barricade grasped my shoulders, shoved me to my back, and rolled on top of me.

I realized that the steel barricade was a man and panic roared through my body, every nerve end blitzing with fear, blood rushing through my body like an indoor waterfall. My brain screamed at me to hit and run, hit and run.

So I did.

It was too dark to see the steel barricade’s head so I couldn’t see what he looked like, but I assumed he was a rapist and had a very long and sharp sword or other weapon in his back pocket, and I would soon meet my untimely demise.

But not without a fight.

I brought one hand up, remembered to bunch it into a fist, and let it fly. It connected with his face.

He said, “Goddammit.” His voice was gravelly and rough and close to my ear.

I brought my other arm up to slug him again, but he caught it deftly, grabbed my other wrist, and I was trapped like a spider on a pin.

I raised up a knee and connected. Everything in me screamed to fight, fight, fight!

“Ah, shit,” the steel hard barricade said. He threw a jean – clad leg over mine.

“Shit yourself, asshole,” I said as a I struggled to bring my captured wrists toward my mouth so I could bite him. (I did not reprimand myself for swearing at that moment.)

THE “LAST TIME I WAS ME” IS ON SALE FOR LESS THAN SEVEN BUCKS ON AMAZON.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B002QHATXI/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

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Cathy Lamb
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