This is the second part of the character portrait. assignment. For the real person, I chose one of my favorite people in the world, my sister (but, shhh, don’t tell her I said that, it might go to her head).
The stillness of anticipation is punctuated by shouts of encouragement:
“You got this!” “Yaas, Ginelle!” “Breathe!”
Back straight, feet at hip width. Knees bent as the bar is lifted. Then the explosion: bar against hips, push from the heels, jump the feet out, arms straight, knees bent in a squat. 64 kilos above a carefully styled halo of dark coils. She breaths out in a sigh of relief as she drops the bar back to the platform. She thanks no god for success earned through five years of hard work.
It was her final lift of the day. So now she could settle in and continue shouting her own encouragements to teammates and strangers alike. It was something she loved about the crossfit community: there was competition, yes and sometimes drama (personality clashes were inevitable in large groups), but over all everyone supported one another.
“You killed it today!” A voice called from behind her. Both women were leaving the changing room after a day of mostly successful lifts.
“You too,” she said, her smile genuine as she looked back at Kayleigh. “And thanks again for that acupuncture appointment, there was a lot less tightness in my hips during the lifts. Think I got more relief in that half hour than the hour long massage sessions.”
“No problem. And how’s the back?” Kayleigh asked, her long dark hair–shaved up front but in a ponytail behind–moved with her as they walked over to the cubbies. Ginelle stood four inches taller than Kayleigh’s five feet, an average height that was often dwarfed by the people in her life.
“It’s like a whole new body part,” Ginelle said, stretching to demonstrate. “You’d never think I pulled anything.”
Putting on her hip-length red puffer, she prepared to head out into New York City’s frigid winter as they confirmed next weekend’s plans to watch Wicked.
“1 2 3 4 5,” she murmured, flipping through the cards in her wallet in a practiced gesture before returning it to her pocket.
As she and Kayleigh wove their way through the platforms, they paused so as not to cross the sight line of a teammate practicing for tomorrow’s competition. “You got this, Brit!” She shouted.
“See you tomorrow, Sarah!” Kayleigh directed the last at another member, getting in the last of her lifts as well. “You and Sarah are the only coaches in tomorrow, right?”
“Yeah.” Ginelle said, reaching the door at last. “See you next week.”
“See you girl,” Kayleigh’s tone was distracted as she turned her attention to another lifter.
As Ginelle stepped into a blast of cold air, her clear, caramel colored face tinged red with cold. She tucked a fold of her black infinity scarf closer to her ear. Then, lifting her phone from her pocket, she began to scroll through notifications as she walked.A message from Kiki: Auntie, can you help me with my math when you get home? Another from Mischief–with a profile photo of a dark-skinned man–let’s go after the gym tomorrow, I’ll pick you up. And finally, an email with the subject line: “I Miss You, Can We Talk”. As she waited at a light, she opened Safari and began to type: how to block an email address. Her phone rang, obscuring the search results. Fumbling with gloves and scarf, she plugged her earpiece in and answered the phone.
“Hey, Beans!” She said, voice raised in both cheer and the need to talk over the passing Franklin Avenue shuttle train.
“Nedy!” Her sister said, the childhood nickname familiar to her ear. “You finished with the gym?”
“How’d it go?”
“I PR’ed my snatch!” She said, before launching into a detailed description of the day. “Now I’m starving. I thought about getting some festivals from that Jamaican place we went to last time, remember? But I think mommy cooked.”
“What’d she make?”
“Stew chicken, again, I think,” she said, adjusting the strap of her book bag.
“Why don’t you get a shake,” her sister suggested. “You’ve been craving it forever and you deserve it.”
“Nah,” she said, raising eyebrows that she had attempted to shape that morning but had ultimately given up on, at a diminutive Asian woman shouting at a group of children. “I’m saving that for when we head to Black Tap. You know my motto: if you gonna cheat, do it right. For that shake with a side of burger”’ I can hold out a few more days.”
Her sister laughed, then proceeded to reminisce about the last time they had gone to Black Tap. Ginelle interjected occasionally, but from all appearances she seemed content to let her ramble on. Well, that is, until she remembered the email. When there was a lull in chatter she said:
“Guess who contacted me today.”
Her sister sighed. “I thought you blocked him.”
“Yeah, on everything but email.”
“Whatcha gonna do about him?”
“I don’t know,” she said, looking surprised when she found herself at the turnstiles. “I don’t know what to do, how else to get through to him, he clearly knows I blocked him everywhere else.”
“There is a New Lots bound 3 train approaching the station.”
“Listen, Beans.” she said, skirting around two women shouting at each other over the screams of a child in a stroller between them. “I’m gonna call you back, the train’s here, then I gotta go deal with mommy”’ we’ll talk later.”
“Kay, talk to you later, Bob.” her sister said, using the latest in a series of strange nicknames that ginelle accepted without question.
She slipped onto the train, just as the doors closed. Her grin of triumph is soon replaced by a smile of affection as she returned to Mischief’s messages.
“Ginelle.” her mother’s Caribbean accented voice broke through her reveries the moment she stepped into the house. “We need to talk. You thirty, you’s a big woman, and I can’ tell you what to do with your house but”'”
The words seemed to roll over her as she went through the motions of unlayering. She murmured responses to her mother as she moved toward the stairs, her bare feet a whisper over the dark carpet, to the comfort of her two toned green room. Upon dropping her book bag in the corner, and changing into house clothes–sweatpants and the Game of Thrones T-shirt with the direwolf on one side and dragon on the other, she settled onto the yoga mat beside her partially opened closet and pulled up the Head Space app. As the British accented man guided her through meditative visualizations, her shoulders, which had tensed the moment she entered her home, began to relax.