It started as a half-buried memory. I couldn’t remember the song title or artist, couldn’t remember a single lyric. I only remembered liking the song, remembered a sort of Bollywood tinge to it, remembered hearing it when the Go-Go Dancers writhed on the sky-high platform around the glowing light tower in the center of the nightclub and, mostly, I remembered pushing myself until the sweat dripped from the tip of my nose and speckled the treadmill belt speeding beneath me while the song reverberated from my headphones all the way to my feet five nights a week. Those were the days I was most dedicated, those were the days I never made excuses, those were the days the weight fell off me like shackles. It started driving me nuts… what was that song? A quick text to an old friend and I was soon listening to at my desk. It was “Tambourine” by Eve and its tick-tock-tick rhythm was a time machine. Eve led to Rhianna then to Usher and Flo Rida and I was transported back to those late nights at the gym and to the time when my focus was singular and unshakable.
In the interest of full disclosure, I will admit that this was never the type of music I had liked in the past. But my time in New Orleans was peppered with new things – I tried on trends, new versions of “me” like they were cheap Mardi Gras masks in a Decatur Street gift shop. Soon, my 80’s synth-pop and hair band playlists went into cold storage and Thompson Twins was replaced by Trey Songz; Nikki Six was replaced by Nicki Minaj. It was fun – the songs were up tempo and inspired some truly ass-kicking workouts. I’d go to the club Saturday night with friends and download new songs on Sunday for my Monday workout.
Regardless of how I got into this music, it is inextricably linked to what I consider the halcyon days of my transformation. Listening to it this week stirred something in me, something more than a memory. Something like a desire. I wasn’t just remember things I did – I was recalling with vivid detail how I felt, a mood not just a story. I have been missing those days as I so often do, thinking about them and wondering if reloading those old songs into my phone might be the spark I need to relight that fire. My depression seems to be receding and a quiet little urge to feel that belt moving beneath me again, to feel the thin foam of weight machine handles in my palms has risen. The dedication I had in those days have eluded me for years. My life was very different then – nobody was waiting for me at home, the trip to the gym required only a 7-floor elevator ride, I was seeing the kind of drastic results that make the lifestyle something akin to perpetual motion with each workout and each pound lost pushing me full-force into the next. While I don’t miss the job that put me in the same building as the gym and I certainly don’t miss having nobody waiting for me at home, I do miss that level of unflappable commitment. I guess after all the back-and-forth, all the on again/off again, all the quits and restarts and quits there is still a little fight left in me. However small, an ember of that fire still glows in me, waiting for me to feed it and reignite the blaze.