It is incredibly depressing how fast muscles forget. One week you can run the length of the street- leaving you gasping like a hooked fish, sure, but you get there- but after only a week or two of hiatus you can barely trot half way before feeling like your chest is imploding. I refer, or course, to my own painful experience this evening, but my dismal chances of winning a marathon are not the topic of this post.
A quarter of the way through my route I surprised three deer. All three began their mandatory skip toward the trees, startlingly huge tails flashing, and then stopped to watch me huff past: the pathetic human who would never master a healthy four-legged gait on her fingernails.
The encounter reminded me of one those memories that is so brief, but that you know will be ingrained in your head until you die, it's so clear.
I am maybe seven years old, and I am standing on a path in the Pocono mountains, gazing straight ahead at a grove of trees. There are deer moving through these trees, only a few yards away from me, and though there were probably fewer, if you want the same impression that I had imagine that there are twelve. They are moving very quickly, but all the verbs generally used to describe their action have too many syllables to avoid sounding bumpy, and deer do not bump. They might spring, as if released from whatever magnets keep them closer to the grass than the clouds, but they do not bump.
Anyway, the deer are moving in a singularly liquid and effortless way directly across my field of vision, and there is a fallen tree straight in front of me, over which they navigate.
Years later, my digital art teacher will open my eyes to the principles of animation, the most pertinent one for our discussion being Anticipation. Anticipation dictates that if a character's fist is going to go forward into another's nose, it must first go back, winding up for the punch. If the bat it going to swing to the right, sending the ball into a home run, it must first go a bit to the left, anticipating the impact. If you are going to jump up, you must first croach down, or it doesn't look real.
The deer didn't get the memo. In my little-girl story, they stream across my vision in a perfectly smooth, completely unrealistic line that curves up a bit over the log and then comes down, effortless, silent and completely mesmerizing. Even at seven, I knew it was impossible. Real life is like that.
Most of the way through my own personal walk of shame, I startled a few more deer. It was a little darker by then, and they were a bit farther away then my first spectators, so all I could see were a bunch of bouncing white lines. It took me a minute to figure out what they were.