Last summer, I fell in love with my boxing teacher. I never kissed him. I never spent time alone with him. Though I did have mental sex with him at least a thousand times, and was only left with goose bumps and a weakened mind.
The first time I went to class, Mike wrapped my hands and told me he’d seen me around. He smiled his glowing smile and I thought he looked nice. I couldn’t put my gloves on, but he was more than happy to help.
I became a daily student of Mike’s craft. But he was a harmless crush. I stole glances at his dark and perfect figure while throwing punches. His arms reminded me of the statue of David in Florence. He called me beautiful, told me to “protect my pretty face,” and helped me swing my hips when I wasn’t rotating them “enough.”
Mike told me he’d take care of me. In spite of our wedding bands, I believed him. Frequently, he switched partners with me so we could box together. He always told me he liked my gym outfit. I wanted to tell him I wore it for him; I never did.
Each class, he surprised me. He loved rubbing my lower back. While stretching, he touched the back of my neck or calf. Sometimes, he bumped into me. Or he grabbed my pinky. Other times, he hugged me and we lingered close. Once, he pressed my knees into my body after sit-ups. The visual was too much and I looked away, hoping he couldn’t read my thoughts.
Maybe it was his perfect body. Or maybe it was his smile and how it made his face look kind. It might have been his infectious zeal. Or that he exuded manliness in ways my husband didn’t.
After class, Mike waited for me in the lobby so we could ride the elevator together. He told me my smile was beautiful and that he loved seeing me in class. I whispered, “You know I love coming to class.” As he exited the building, we looked longingly at each other. Much like star-crossed lovers, or teenagers. Except, we were married adults.
And so I dreamt of him. I imagined his chiseled body taking mine to inexperienced heights. My husband and I went on vacation to Europe; I couldn’t wait to get back. As we climbed mountains and bicycled through small islands, I smiled and took refuge in my ever constant thoughts of Mike. The boxer.
Mike’s attention improved my fitness. I tried harder when he watched me, which was always. I lost weight. I had love to give and so I gave. I engaged in chit chat with the baristas and the janitors. I smiled at strangers. Instead of butting heads with my parents over silly things, I became a light-hearted daughter. I turned into a better friend, being there for the gals I loved. And I had sex more often, cooked dinner more frequently, and did chores almost daily.
There was no boxing on Mondays, so Tuesdays became my reason to live. I awaited the arrival of class time like an addict. By 11, my hands were clammy and my heart was beating out of my chest. At 11:30, I walked into class exploding with giddiness. Seeing Mike was the climax of my days. I was in a heightened emotional state 24/7. I don’t know how I wasn’t fired.
One day, I timed my departure from work with the end of his class. Shameless, I jumped into the same subway car as him. We talked for 20 minutes. I was going nowhere; he didn’t ask.
A couple days later, Mike hugged me and said we needed to finish our conversation. He gave me his business card. I sent him an email saying, “I love it when you touch me,” along with a Facebook invite. We agreed to meet on a Tuesday. Mike said he dreamt of kissing my lips; I dreamt of much more.
I couldn’t wait for Tuesday. I wanted to ask Mike about the scar on his right arm, why his last name didn’t sound Brazilian, and where I could box more in the city. I longed to stand close to him and to kiss him. I was exhausted and wanted reality to relieve my brain of Mike.
The day before meeting, Mike called me and said we needed to break off all contact. My email made things hairy, he explained. I said nothing aside from goodbye. I texted him saying I was sorry. I even promised to skip boxing.
I couldn’t keep my promise. I went to class, yet Mike stayed away. He made small talk from a distance, and even smiled. But it was like the last three months hadn’t existed. I found myself gasping for air and leaving my chair to avoid crying at my desk. I didn’t understand how Mike made me a better human. In thinking he wanted me, he made me happier, and I became a better version of myself. I fell in love with boxing, Mike, and gave life my all.
Mike no longer means much. I went to therapy. I got a personal trainer. I spoke to my friends. But I also worked through every kink of my obsession on my own. I wrote Mike a goodbye letter and gave it to him. Upon letting go, I understood. Mike was a catalyst for change, an enabler that helped me rework my relationships, contentment, and satisfaction. I am eternally grateful that a stranger changed me.
Occasionally, I box. Mike smiles delectably and tells me I look tasty. I no longer bat my eyes at him, but I do smile and move on.