A Coiled Spring

by Carrinicole

Sometimes I feel like I have so much energy in my body that it hurts. My legs are like a wound spring, aching to be released. It distracts me like a child tugging at my hem. It makes me irritable. It keeps me up at night.

The ache has been prominent during covid-19. The endless hours and days spent inside. I’m surprised at how much I walked and moved before the pandemic. The little things like walking to my car, back and forth to meetings and the restroom down the hall. I’m now confined to my one-bedroom bungalow where everything is ten steps away.

When covid first started and we didn’t know much about the virus, it seemed like weeks were spent inside. Living in a dense urban area felt like a minefield. Many packed into small spaces; the best neighborhoods are the most dense and desired.

So here we were, paying Santa Monica rent to walk everywhere and be close to the beach, yet covid imprisoned us in our home. Thinking about going for a walk was stressful for me, there were always so many people. Fellow apartment dwellers exercising, Angelenos escaping eastside heat for the Pacific breeze. When the beaches and paths closed, it pushed people into the neighborhood.

Days spent yearning to run, walk outdoors. Fear keeping me inside. I would analyze how busy different times were – 6am vs. 7am vs. 10am vs. 2pm – finding an optimal empty-sidewalk time. (The off-hours were best – 10am, 2pm – when people needed to care for their kids.)

On the days when anxiety wouldn’t allow me to even try, I walked circles in my tiny backyard. Audible on, and around I went. Sometimes I would turn on music and dance in circles, wiggling my body to uncoil the spring. Subside the ache, if only for a while.

A domesticated animal pacing her cage. Yearning for the expanse, no borders, to run freely.

March has melted into September. Supply hoarding. Travel bans. Home offices. Home schooling. Zoom assault. Closures, reopenings. Peaks, valleys. Summer spikes. School spikes. Winter warnings. Flooding. Fires.

Now that we know more about the virus, it would seem that my anxiety has subsided. And it has… a little. I won’t limit myself to specific times: if I miss a walking window, I’ll still go. I zig zag across streets like a zipper, avoiding closeness. Shooting daggers at improper mask-wearers, like a hall monitor.

The ache is still there. A steady hum, a ringing in my ears, pulsing through my body. My legs remembering a time when they were more useful. I hear them yelling ‘put me in coach!’ But I don’t even know what game I’m playing anymore.

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