Why do I wake up at four o’clock in the morning and grunt the name “Vasily Alekseyev?”
Why have I forgotten how to sleep, where I am, the day of the week, and how to make rice pudding when I can pull Vasily Alekseyev out of the cobwebs of the past, and see him as clearly as though I were a stunned little kid watching Wide World of Sports with her siblings?
“I can clean and jerk the cat.”
“I can clean and jerk the chair.”
“I can clean and jerk the lamp…”
“Mommy! She did it, Mommy, she did it!”
I know why I remember Vasily Alekseyev.
I fell asleep on a very deep couch, and now I have to get up.
I struggle to get to the edge, then spread my legs out wide, like a Russian weightlifter preparing to break a world record.
Once my knees are parallel with my shoulders, I lift up my butt and grunt.
I let my knees absorb my weight.
I straighten my legs with my butt still in the air.
Slowly, slowly, slowly, I straighten out my back until it’s as straight as it gets.
The weight has been lifted. I’m now standing up.
Like Alekseyev heading toward the platform to receive his Gold Medal, I stagger off to the bathroom, triumphant in my mobility.
My back gives a tiny spasm acknowledging the start of the day.
I love being old.