Tuesday, April 9, 2013
Traveling Back in time on a Treadmill
Sometimes while working through a set at the gym, part of my mind goes on autopilot counting and another part of my mind drifts back to some moment in time and dwells there until I’m done counting. If I am running on a treadmill, my mind wonders back until my timer goes off.
I remember instances over the years when I would be somewhere doing something and would ponder what I would be doing in the near or distant future. Often, when my mind travels backwards it goes to those moments--a moment like the time when I was walking in a line behind the teacher in third grade and would see the fifth graders marching along. I would think, “Life will be so much different and better as a fifth grader.” Then I would imagine what it would be like and would think to myself that it would be mere moments when imagination would be reality. I would then imagine myself as a fifth grader looking back on the time I wondered what it would be like as a third grader. To this day, every so often, I think back on the third grade version of myself thinking those thoughts.
Today, as I was jogging along on the treadmill, I reflected, for some reason, on a time when I was 14 or 15 and my family was hired to summarize the swamp coolers on a commercial building. Instead of hiring my father before summer started, they had to hire us in June when they realized, “Hey, air conditioning needs to be maintained or our employees will leave.”
So, my father, my tiny mother, my two younger brothers, and I would climb the forty-foot extension ladder numerous times throughout the day to the roof and remove dozens of swamp cooler pads, take chisels and wire brushes to the built up minerals, oil the pumps and squirrel cages, put new pads in, snake out the spiders, and close them up again. In the 110-degree heat, we would repeatedly douse ourselves in water, making our clothes into evaporative coolers themselves. The job would take all weekend to complete, over twenty hours.
As I worked on one of the coolers, I thought to myself, “This work will be done in a day or two.” I closed my eyes and lay on the roof for a few seconds and thought that, with my eyes closed, I could just as well be laying on a beach somewhere in that moment. Then I thought about my life in 10, 15, and 20 years and how I would probably never be on a commercial building with my entire family again. I was right. My entire family would not be in tact after a few more years with the passing of my brother (he fell off a canyon wall at 16) and my father then stopped accepting these jobs on roofs of commercial buildings.
As I let the sun swelter down on my closed eyes, I never imagined myself being an attorney nor that I would be jogging on a treadmill over 20 years later thinking about it.