Find Another Lover

August 15, 2014

“Find another lover.”  The late Adolph Ceasar spoke those words at a Smithsonian lecture I attended 30 years ago.  They came ringing back to me this morning.

For those unfamiliar with Adolph Ceasar, he was one of the voices behind the memorable catch-phrase, “The mind is a terrible thing to waste” for the United Negro College Fund.  A powerful actor in films, such as A Soldier’s Story and The Color Purple, Ceasar won recognition when he was nominated by both the Academy and the Golden Globe for best supporting actor in A Soldier’s Story.  While filming his last film Club Paradise, he suffered a heart attack and died shortly thereafter at the age of 53.

I remember he spoke these words with such clarity and fervor, “If your lover leaves you, find another lover.”  I knew he was right, but embracing his advice is another story.  How do you do that?  After you’ve shared such intimacies with another, it feels like your heart has been ripped out of your chest and only a hollow cave remains.  If the breakup is recent, some of us can barely hobble out of bed in the morning, let alone eat, dress and brush our teeth!

I am a believer that loss should be grieved.  Picking up the next day like nothing has happened after a meaningful relationship has ended is not a wise idea.  It’s called denial.  Your feelings must be acknowledged and felt; otherwise you carry them with you wherever you go.  You can pretend you’re fine, but anyone who’s the slightest bit aware picks up on the malaise that swarms around you.  Then you attract the rescuers and repel the more grounded.

Why Remember Adolph’s Words Now?

Why have Adolph’s words come back to me this morning?  You’re going to laugh!  I am grieving the loss of my morning boot camp–an exercise program with a certified trainer four mornings a week.  I had been religious about participating in this boot camp for the past year and a half.  At 5:45 AM I would get in my car, turn on NPR, and listen to this guy who talked about the latest technology trends during the 10 minutes it took to drive to the gym or park, depending on the weather and season.  In early July my boot camp program abruptly ended.

A workout program is hardly a lover, but the lover metaphor can be applied to anything you’re committed to.  Boot camp gave my day structure.  It was the impetus to get me moving.  If you are anything like me, I do not love to exercise.  Walking, yes, but push-ups, lunges, planks, and kettlebell swings, spare me!  Only under the surveillance of a trainer am I willing to subject myself to these kinds of exercises.

In my advancing years, I realize how important it is to move and take care of my body.  Boot camp ensured me that I was at least doing the minimum to keep myself limber–oiling the knees, tightening my underarm flab and staving off the fat that can’t wait to wrap itself around my hips.  Going to the workout room where I live doesn’t cut it.  Learning to use the different machines, adjusting them to the proper weight so I don’t kill myself, and deciding how many reps are demands I just don’t want to deal with.

The Trainers and My Workout Partners

And what about the relationships I developed there?  No, they may not equate to that of a lover, but they remain an important component of the whole experience.  I got attached to the trainers.  They were of such a high caliber.  One, in particular, always amazed me.  She would exercise along with us, counting the reps out loud at the same time.  Meanwhile, I could barely talk as I huffed and puffed my way through each exercise.  The hour was entirely planned with diverse activities, always leaving enough time to stretch and wind down at the end.  Each day had a focus:  cardio, legs, upper body, etc.  It was impressive.

Of course, let’s not forget my fellow compatriots!  Together we groaned, sweated and supported one another.  By the time this gig wound down, only four of us remained.  We knew who wouldn’t be there on Mondays, who was away visiting her parents, or who had a working breakfast or week-long conference to attend.  I would miss them when they couldn’t attend and be delighted when they returned.  Although I didn’t know them well, they all were a part of my morning routine.

The Racquetball Player and the Parking Lot Attendant

Initially I had joined this boot camp in 2004 and consistently sweated my guts out for five years.  Every winter we worked out in one of the rooms of a gym.  To get there we passed racquetball courts where the same guys played week after week.  One man would always say hi and ask how we were.

Due to illness, I had to withdraw in 2009.  I didn’t have the energy or stamina to do the exercises.  So, when I returned in February 2013, the same guys, a little grayer with the occasional ACE bandaged knee, were playing their routine racquetball game.  The same man remembered me and enthusiastically welcomed me back.  I never knew his name, nor he mine, but he made my visits to the gym that much sweeter.

Whenever I left the underground parking lot, I was required to give my ticket to a parking attendant.  Always with a smile at that crazy hour of the morning, she would wish me a good day.  I so enjoyed that one heartfelt minute we exchanged with each other.  Hearing how her weekend went or agreeing how cold it was created a caring connection.

My Time to Find a New Lover

In June my favorite trainer decided to relinquish the boot camp.  She had found more stable, lucrative employment elsewhere and passed the baton to another trainer.  After two days the new trainer discovered the arrangement wasn’t going to work.  She informed me by leaving a phone message and wishing me a “blessed life.”  With the flick of a dial and a quick “Dear John” voice mail, the relationship ended.

Nearly six weeks have passed, and I know it’s time for me to find a new lover.  Like most people who’ve suffered a breakup, I am resistant.  I know, however, I must get out there and explore the options.  I’ve grieved enough.  My clothes are beginning to fit snugly.  My love-handles are gaining ground.  Adolph was right.  If I follow his advice, I won’t have to buy a new wardrobe.

 

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