Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Well, hello there...

Oooh, the internet. Maybe if I post all my shit here, I won't risk losing it because my computer has a random fit of gayness. I suppose I'll post some crappy stories and crappy poems, and maybe my workouts and random thoughts (though only a few of them, as I seem to have a lot). Or I may just forget about this whole thing by tomorrow morning. Who gives a fuck? It's only the internet. Here's a story. Enjoy it, whether that means reading it or mocking it.

Jacob Tsypkin


The loaded bar crashed to the ground, three red forty-five pound plates locked in on either side. It was a well used bar, old but sturdy, complete with worn down knurling and that ugly browned look barbells get after years of use. The man, of medium height and powerful build, stepped onto the platform, shaking the kinks out of his muscles and the cobwebs out of his head. No room for thought here; he wasn’t here to think.

He put a hand on the bar and rolled it into place, making the sides even. The feel of the barbell was familiar, comforting. His sweat had helped wear down the texture on every bar in the gym. This wasn’t your commercial “spandex” gym. There were no leg press machines or curl bars, no treadmills or ellipticals. It was a large, dimly lit room, reminiscent of a dank basement. One wall was lined with squat racks, the opposite wall with lifting platforms. Dumbbells and kettlebells, old but well kept, decorated the back, while the center of the gym contained several flat benches. There were extra bars and plates in a corner next to the front window; the window itself simply said “Klein Olympic Weightlifting and Powerlifting. There was no need for an “Open” sign, or even a sign showing hours – anyone who needed to know, would know. Most people who came to the gym only came once; they may have asked for a “hardcore” gym, but they didn’t know what they were getting into when they came here. No spandex.

His hands grasped the familiar steel, twisting and flexing as he tested the weight. He moved his hands wide and prepared for the lift, getting into position. He recalled for a moment the first time he had taken this posture, so awkward and unnatural: lower back curved forward, shoulder blades pulled tight, butt back and chin forward, weight on heels. His hamstrings had felt as if they were about to pop; eventually he learned that this feeling was good, that it meant he was tense and ready to explode…but for a long time, it just felt wrong. But not anymore – it was second nature now, it was natural. It was somewhere he belonged.

The process is simple, or so it seems: First, lift the bar steadily up from the
ground. Once the bar reaches thigh level, jump, hard. The bar moves up, becomes weightless for a split second…and in that second, drop under it, faster than life can pass by. Squeeze everything, stay on your heels, lock your arms out overhead and stand up.

That split second is important. In that split second of weightlessness, pure freedom can be achieved. No job, no bills, no responsibility – just a bar, some plates, and a chance to go fast enough to catch up with life.

The others were watching by now, waiting for him to attempt the lift; he’d never gone this heavy before. He didn’t mind. They were fixtures, like the racks and benches. They could stare all they wanted, so long as they didn’t interrupt. This was sacred.
Butt back, chin forward, weight on heels. He squeezed every muscle in his body, looked up toward the sky and pulled. The bar started to move off the ground – that was the easy part. It moved steadily upward, up and up and up…it was at mid-shin, it was at his knee, it was at his thigh, he jumped and he was there, in that split second of weightlessness – and then down and down and down he went, landed in the bottom, squeezed and locked his arms out…he had it! He stood up, steady and solid, no wasted motion. For a moment he held the position, cherishing it.


The bar hit the ground again, plates rattling. He took a deep breath as they started to clap. He didn’t need that; he wasn’t here for that. He was here for that moment, that weightlessness, that freedom, and the heavier the weight was, the more it released him. He unloaded the bar, put the plates back, gathered his things and walked out the door, back into that world of work and bills and responsibility. He didn’t mind – he could always come back to the gym, to the bar, to the weight.

To freedom.

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