Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

A Treadmill Jogs Fond Memories of Home

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

A Treadmill Jogs Fond Memories of Home

Article excerpt

One dreary, icy, unpleasant-to-be-outside January day, I laced up my shoes and dragged myself unenthusiastically onto the treadmill at my local gym. Sighing, I jabbed at the buttons on the machine to start yet another long, boring workout and stared out of the dark windows at the gray day. I turned on my portable cassette player, and as African drums filled my ears, I found a rhythm in my stride.

I began to daydream about Kitale, Kenya, where I had grown up, and decided to play a little game with myself. I imagined the road that led up to my house in Kitale, and I mentally traced the path along a five-mile route that I had run many times as a young girl, in training for field hockey.

Ironically, the field hockey, which had been my sole motivation for running in school, had disappeared from my life. But the habit of running stayed and became part of my daily routine.

As the treadmill churned beneath me, I envisioned the red dirt puffing under my feet. I mentally ran up the hill and turned the corner, passing the houses hidden behind the protective hedges that everyone in my neighborhood grew around their compounds. I saw the flame trees that grew along the road, my feet sliding a little on the brilliant orange blossoms that fall beneath the trees.

Kenyan children, reclining on the grass outside their various houses, popped up and greeted me with little calls of "Jambo, mzungu!" ("Hello, white person!") Some, wanting to practice the English they were learning in school, cried out, "How are you?" I smiled to myself, remembering how I had waved and called back, "I am fine, watoto (children), how are you?" The treadmill beeped, and to my surprise, I realized my usually torturous exercise session was already over. I was ecstatic to have discovered a new way to beat the treadmill blues.

I continued this mental journey every time I climbed onto that treadmill, all through the long winter. Spring finally came, and I raced outside for my runs, feeling like a kid being let out of school for summer vacation.

Though I was no longer bound to the treadmill, I still sometimes played the game of running through Kitale, reveling in outdoor paths that reminded me of Kenya. …

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