he conversation begins this way, more or less predictably: “And how does that make you feel?”
“Well, obviously not good.”
“Expand on that.”
“It’s simple and it’s complicated all at once. When Jenny bought me five years ago, I managed to keep up my hope for a few years. I was purchased as part of a New Year resolution, ‘Work Out More,’ and in the first few weeks of that year, she did take me out and unroll me on the floor and do some abs. But it was sporadic at best. Still, I remained optimistic compared to the jaded dumbbells and the cynical resistance elastics I shared the basket with. Let’s be honest, it’s much more likely you’ll reach for the workout mat than the dumbbells. She can do yoga on me, stretch, abs, all sorts of low-impact exercises. And before she knows it, I’m a habit.
That’s why I stayed positive. But soon, she stopped vacuuming by our basket. She avoided our area so much, I watched a pistachio that fell behind the couch shrivel into nothing. And then December came around. I could hear her grumbles with every holiday delicacy she indulged. She showed no restraint. That’s when I knew that come January, she’d make the resolution again and I’d have my chance. And when January came, she did reach for me. Twice. She lay on her back, did one set of twelve sit ups, a one-minute plank, then mindlessly scrolled on her phone for an hour. Lord knows where I found hope the next December, but I shouldn’t have made the effort for I tasted an even harsher disappointment.
She used me once. And all she did was unroll me before getting a text and rushing out to meet her friend for coffee. She didn’t roll me back up for a week, she just walked all over me. Like everyone in my family always has.
I’m a pathetic excuse for a workout mat. My mother was right. She was a yoga mat, one of those high-quality ones with excellent grip and no padding. She always looked down at me. I can still hear her, ‘You’re a disappointment and you’re headed straight for mediocrity, a TJ Maxx, and someone’s forgotten workout equipment corner.’ If she saw me now… I’ve got no grip. I’ve got too little cushion to be padded but too much to be sleek. I’ve got an off-center pattern on me that no one likes.
Not like my brother, Mr. Cross-Fit mat. Firm, thick, unyielding, made to take huge weights dropped onto him by overly fit people. He can do no wrong in their eyes. My dad, the padding on a weightlifting bench would probably say something insensitive and not politically correct about me. ‘Look who can disappear into a tiny little roll, perfect for a girl’s apartment.’
Every time Jenny chooses a glass of wine over me, it confirms that I am exactly what my parents said I’d become. I saw… I can barely say it… I saw her googling a fancy new mat a few weeks ago. The kind my mother was. There’s too much to unpack in that for this session.
Jenny hates me too, it’s not just my parents. I see the resentful glares she shoots at me from time to time, like when she gets into a fit of cleaning and throwing out old things. She looks at me with this anger, like I’m the one stopping her from working out. I almost… oh man, I can’t believe I’m going to say this… sometimes, I wish she would just toss me out, put me out of my misery, instead of keeping me here, in a corner, my rolls turning stiffer and stiffer, less likely to unfurl flat. I can feel the pliability leave my foam every day.
I don’t know how many more smug glances from the wine bottle I can take. No, I shouldn’t antagonize the rosé. It’s not its fault. I’m just jealous. I want what the wine has, to be used for what I was made for: low-level, low-quality exercise. Not that anybody ever asks, but I’m unfulfilled. I want more from this life. But I don’t know that I’ll get it. So, yeah, I guess that’s how I feel about the year coming to an end. My anxiety’s through the roof. I know New Year’s is around the corner and I simply abhor it. I don’t even know whether to hope she makes a resolution to work out again or not. What would hurt less…
Anyway, thank you, Calendar with Inspirational Quotes from Jenny’s Mom. I don’t know what I’d do without you.”
“We’ll continue this talk next time.”