It’s amazing how you can somehow catch a whiff of somebody’s breath and skin that you used to be physically and emotionally close with, and suddenly, you’re taken right back to a moment with them whether you’d like to be or not.
And yet most of the time I can’t even remember the name of the person I just met, or what day I’m seeing the doctor.
"You take your break. You try to get back to your work, to your writing. You start three novels: one about a pelotero, one about a narco, and one about a bachatero—all of them suck pipe. You get serious about classes and, for your health, you take up running. You used to run in the old days and you figure you need something to get you out of your head. You must have needed it bad, because once you get into the swing of it you start running four, five, six times a week. It’s your new addiction. You run in the morning and you run late at night, when there’s no one on the paths next to the Charles. You run so hard that your heart feels like it’s going to seize.
When winter rolls in, a part of you fears that you’ll fold—Boston winters are on some terrorism shit—but you need the activity more than anything, so you keep at it even as the trees are stripped of their foliage and the paths empty out and the frost reaches into your bones. Soon it’s only you and a couple of other lunatics. Your body changes, of course. You lose all that drinking and smoking chub, and your legs look like they belong to someone else. Every time you think about the ex, every time the loneliness rears up in you like a seething, burning continent, you tie on your shoes and hit the paths and that helps; it really does.
By winter’s end, you’ve gotten to know all the morning regulars and there’s even this one girl who inspires in you some hope. You pass each other a couple of times a week, and she’s a pleasure to watch, a gazelle, really—what economy, what gait, and what an amazing fucking cuerpazo. She always smiles at you as you pass. You consider flopping in front of her—My leg! My leg!—but that seems incredibly cursi. You keep hoping you’ll bump into her around town.
The running is going splendidly, and then six months in you feel a pain in your right foot. Along the inside arch, a searing that doesn’t subside after a few days’ rest. Soon you’re hobbling even when you’re not running. You drop in on Emergency Care and the P.N. pushes with his thumb, watches you writhe, and announces that you have plantar fasciitis.
You have no idea what that is. When can I run again?
He gives you a pamphlet. Sometimes it takes a month. Sometimes six months. Sometimes a year. He pauses. Sometimes longer.
That makes you so sad that you go home and lie in bed in the dark. You’re afraid. I don’t want to go back down the hole, you tell Elvis. Then don’t, he says. Like a hardhead you keep trying to run, but the pain sharpens. Finally, you give up. You put away the shoes. You sleep in. When you see other people hitting the paths, you turn away. You find yourself crying in front of sporting-goods stores. Out of nowhere you call the ex, but of course she doesn’t pick up. The fact that she hasn’t changed her number gives you strange hope, even though you’ve heard that she’s dating somebody.”