I decided to start taking the bus to work in the mornings. At one point, this seemed like a good idea. I had fantasies about what to do with all the money I would save from not having to buy so much gas, changing the oil and doing those weird tune-ups that I've heard so much about but don't think I've ever actually done.
After just a few weeks of taking the bus, I'll probably have saved enough money to stay at one of those over-water bungalows in Bora Bora where I would magically get a tan without getting a sunburn, and drink exotic things with slices of pineapple on the side.
Well, the truth is that I am saving a little money. In fact, I've probably saved enough money that I can get the fancy ramen with the little pieces of dried vegetables floating on top rather than eating the 12 cent ramen that's usually stocked on the very bottom shelf of the grocery store. Put a little canned pineapple on the side and I can easily pretend I'm on a very pale Caribbean vacation.
When discussing my new life-changing bus-taking plan with my co-workers, a couple of them suggested that I start biking to work. I have a couple of co-workers that do this on a regular basis. They always arrive at work looking like they just had the best morning of their lives, with a fresh morning breeze running across their body and through their hair.
These co-workers are obviously in incredibly good shape. I could already tell that if I tried to ride a bike to work, I would fall at least four times and forget how to use my brakes at least once. I'd also probably get a traffic ticket because I can never do the lane change signals with my arms because I'm too terrified to release the handlebars for even the briefest moment.
I had to confess to my co-workers that there is no possible way that I could ride a bike to work and arrive in any condition to actually get anything done over the course of the day. I would probably melt into a puddle of my own sweat while gasping for breath and puking into the trash can.
Even if my co-workers would be proud of my effort, the housekeepers would be less impressed and would probably confiscate my bike.
No, taking the bus seemed like a much more doable solution for me.
The problem is I still arrive at work with sweat dripping off me. Now, instead of starting my day with a cup of coffee, I start my day panting in front of the mirror and griping about the fact that there's no point in doing my makeup in the morning if it's just going to melt off before anyone's even seen me.
Complaining and coffee seem to work equally well for me as a way to perk up in the morning. The bus stop might be close to my work, but I had completely underestimated the hill I have to walk up to actually get in the door of my job.
So, I might not look attractive, and I might have to demonstrate on a daily basis to co-workers — whom I adore and respect — exactly how out of shape I am. But there are a couple things that keep me going.
The main one is that my son, Silas, is really proud of me. He's impressed at my effort to get a little healthier and regularly points at magazine covers and tells me that pretty soon I'll look just like that. Apparently, a few more weeks of taking the bus and people will start mistaking me for Heidi Klum.
Between taking the bus and eating a little bit more ramen, I can only imagine that I'm just a few decades away from being able to go to Bora Bora.
Although, for now, the only water that I'm over is a little puddle of my own sweat.
Zoe Abel is working toward being able to ride a bike and being the palest person to ever walk the beaches of the Caribbean. You can contact her at email@example.com