Updated: Apr 23
1989 was an important year with the world reshaping on a large scale, and even for me. That fall I had started my Freshman year of High School. I had spent much of that Summer growing. When I had graduated from Middle School, I was five feet and nine inches tall, weighing in at about 170 lbs. Among my peers of about 900 in the same grade, only two people were taller than me, and one of them had been help back at least once, if not twice. I kinda stuck out.
Yeah, look at that smug fourteen year-old with the giraffe neck!
Even worse still, I was a gullible fool who trusted my friends....
Yes, I'm the one who dropped his guard and lost his shorts, revealing the very white underwear. Why is the shot so blurry, you ask? Because the instant my shorts came down, I pulled them back up, looked up and saw this fucker running for his life, as I gave chase, red with embarrassment:
Even after I had taken my camera back, Frank was still laughing, hysterically.
Well, at five feet and nine inches, that 170 lbs. looked rather skinny on me, but during that Summer I had growing pains. Not just the emotional and metaphorical kinds, but the physical ones, too. One day, while I was riding my bike around Taylor Ranch with a friend, Matt, he commented that my calves were bleeding.
"Seriously, dud. Look?"
I got off my bike, and looked. As I flexed my calves to get a look when I twisted my hip slightly, there was a perfect slice through my skin to the muscles, and as the flex continued, the slit grew longer, parallel to my leg. Initially there was no pain, but it's recent growth hurt like hell. Come to find out, the muscles in my calves were growing faster than my skin. But my skin wasn't alone.
One morning I had woken up in a start, a fit of near breathless screaming. I couldn't breathe. The struggle to get off my top bunk of my bed was made difficult since I couldn't get a full breath. My mother was there in an instant, and while I breathlessly explained, we came to find out that my lungs had grown so fast, my rib cage was suffocating me, unable to keep pace with my internal organs.
By the time Freshmen year in High School started, I was nearly six feet tall, and 195 lbs. On the first day of gym, we all had to run a mile as fast as we could. I had never done it, but as I ran, I found a sense of freedom from the immediate world. Not only had that brought a feeling of calmness and peacefulness I had never felt before, it also had bestowed confidence and pride, and so I ran.
I had ran four, quarter laps in six minutes and thirty seconds. Coach Herrera approached me right after.
"John, you should join the track team, and maybe football."
"Really. Meet me here on the field after your last class," he said, and left quickly afterwards. I joined the track team that year.
Five years later, I was running the two-mile test in the physical exam in eleven-and-a-half minutes. Running freed me from everything. There was no problem I had encountered that counldn't've been solved by running. I'd soon find out just how wrong running was for me.