It is a temperate suburban day, and you’ve just caught a glimpse of the most intriguing woman. There’s something oddly familiar about her: soft, forgiving, breathable. She could be anyone. She could be no one.
She is a woman in athleisure.
But who is she? Is she active, or lazy? Outdoorsy, or indoorsy? Is she middle-class, or upper-middle-class? In such universally pragmatic clothing, you cannot say for certain.
She walks ahead of you in the same direction, and you take it all in — absorbing her every movement.
First, you see her hair. Gleaming in the sunlight and pulled back from her long neck, it is also flecked with leaves. Because of a rigorous outdoor HIIT routine, or because she does not bathe? Maybe she was tending to her gardenias, or caressed by a light, gardenia-infused breeze during an afternoon ground nap. Mysteries abound.
She is infinite, unlimited, like her range of motion.
You notice the phone in the built-in side pocket of her leggings, its attached earbuds secured by her racerback strap (so as not to inhibit her speed, or else because they are dirty). Is she listening to a Latin-inspired barre warm-up playlist, or walking directions to the nearest Chipotle? You don’t know — there are Chipotles in every direction.
She is drenched; the crew neckline of her Athleta jersey a darker shade of mint green than the rest. Is she sweaty? Greasy? Recently rained-on? It is impossible to tell. She is radiant, glistening, like a reflective upper-back patch on a well-lit street.
Is she a size 4, or a European size 4? The flexible wicking material of her Fabletics by Kate Hudson somehow both disguises and bares the soft curves of her body. Does she wish to hide, or be seen? Is she even aware that her taut, sinewy frame and literally impossibly ample chest is, in fact, best accentuated by her dozens of cross-body straps? You decide.
You see her tilting her head slightly, gently, from one side to the other. She looks tired. Is she tired from running? She has been running through your mind all day, you chuckle blithely to yourself. (But no, seriously — it’s probably from running. She probably runs.)
Her face in profile, you notice the expression is vague yet obscuring, like a black mesh insert. Is she reminiscing the victory of her last 10k, or deciding which Wilson brother had the best on-screen chemistry with Kate Hudson? Perhaps she’s contemplating the reductive, overly sexualized, and patronizingly flowery style in which male writers describe female characters — an enduring narrative born of entitlement and fueled by societal ignorance-or downright denial-of female complexity?
Who knows? Might as well keep projecting like the superfluous, open-back design of a pilates top.
She stops: her stance proud and sure, like a reinforced elastic waistband. Is she in mountain pose? Is she preparing a full yoga sequence, or preparing to launch? You’re now a little scared as you snap out of your literary reverie. Wait — is that an ankle weight, or an ankle… monitor!
Suddenly, a deafening cacophony erupts in the trees as she sprints passed you (you were right about the running), leaving a fiery wreckage in her wake. You crawl on your hands and knees, seeking shelter from the mayhem, and spot her once more in the distance. Revealing an elegant, Fitbit-adorned wrist, she wipes the ash from her brow. She smirks slightly — at last meeting your gaze — and mimes a throat-cutting motion before mouthing, “You’re next.”
Who will believe you?