I hit the gym early last week for the first time in 18 months. It felt awful.
It wasn’t the inability to lift any significant weight, the fact that I couldn’t sit without screaming for two days, or the sudden, crushing need to go to bed at 8pm. It wasn’t even the blow to my ego.
For reasons that still elude, I’ve always loved lifting at the gym. The strategic lighting that does the impossible – making invisible muscles suddenly pop and evening out sleepy skin tone without concealer, foundation, whatever – and the music of clanging plates had been a kind of sanctuary. Humming with adrenaline in the power rack, I couldn’t believe I’d left this place for so long, how fearful I’d been to crawl back.
Happy in a way I haven’t been here in Tokyo, I hit legs twice last week. “Noob move,” Josh said after I told him I did squats and deadlifts on my first day back, “I wish you were here so I could punch you in the quads.” He was right. I spent half of yesterday – my second heavy leg day in the same week – sprawled motionless on my bed, sweating and feeling clammy at the same time, tired but restless and nauseous. The stress of a few pathetic deadlifts had also touched an emotional nerve that felt intensely raw. I cried for no reason, then promptly passed out.
Through it all – the overloaded CNS manifested in utter exhaustion and a mini meltdown – I remembered a particular berry crumble cake. I remembered the chewy oats, the soft crumb of a sweet, cinnamon-scented cake contrasted against the tartness of berries, the shortbread-like bottom crust. I couldn’t move, but I would have walked to Sunday Bake Shop again if it had been open.
Open on Sunday and somewhat inexplicably on Wednesday, I’d trekked over there with my sister-in-law last week. An adorable space tucked away in Hatsudai, a long table greets customers, laden with brownies, pound cakes, carrot cupcakes, perfect cheesecakes, and small mountains of scones. The open kitchen in the back lends a view to the entire process, where trays of pastries come out of ovens and on that day, a focaccia was being prepared. Seating is limited, but the espresso machine entices lingering over baked goods with friends.
We headed home with two boxes of deliciousness. The carrot cupcakes disappeared before I got a taste, but I inhaled half of the berry crumble cake later that day. I’m still thinking about it.