|The Armory is a castle with a track inside.|
The most exciting winter track trip of the year was to the New Balance Armory in New York City. The Hispanic Games is an all-day meet, from about eight in the morning to later than ten in the evening. Only out best athletes had the privilege to go. Ned Willig was expected to win the mile. Our boys 4 by 400 was expected to qualify for States. The girls 4 by 800 was expected to take home a trophy. I was expected to participate. Excited to finally be considered a good runner, I leaped onto the bus and then immediately sat down. There was plenty of room on the bus, but the juniors and seniors wanted to lie down on the seats and sleep. That meant that underclassmen and bad runners were forced to double up in the front of the bus. I respectfully shared the seats designated for freshmen with Thomas, right behind the coaches and in front of the girls. The bus had not even left the parking lot and everyone was already asleep.
The bus ride up was three hours long, and my race was a little under five minutes long. I had brought a blanket in hopes of sleeping like everyone else. It was morning, but really early morning, and the darkness seemed even darker. The promise of sunlight was hours off. I plugged in my headphones to a song called Weightless, which was supposed to be the most narcotic song ever written. I lowered my head into a makeshift pillow/balled up sweatshirt against the window. I took a deep breath and closed my eyes.
I had to pee.
It was about thirty minutes into the bus ride when a weight dropped down from my stomach onto my bladder and threatened to push its way out of any pore available. My abdomen felt like anything besides Weightless. I rocked back and forth then propped my knees up then kicked my legs out then pressed myself backward into the chair in hopes of finding a position that would alleviate the pain. It was to no avail.
“Thomas, I really have to pee,” I admitted.
He looked forward through the windshield to see if any skyscrapers had come into view. We had just left Pennsylvania and were about a whole three seconds into New Jersey, New York was still two hours off.
“Just hold it,” he advised, as if I hadn’t already been doing that.
I couldn’t hold it. I had to do something. But where? This wasn’t a fancy coach bus with a bathroom in the back. I had a Sham Wow, but I didn’t care put its absorbency to the test. I had the pants I was wearing, and I had extras that I could change into after I soil the first. I had two water bottles, but both were already full. There was nowhere to go.
Unless, I made a place to go.
It was common sense really. All I had to do was drink a whole bottle, and then I would have something to pee in. Obviously there would be no repercussions of drinking more water. I reached into my duffle bag and pulled out the lousier of the two water bottles. I was so excited I almost peed. With one hand suppressing my throbbing crotch and the other squeezing the sides of the plastic bottle, I downed gulps upon gulps. I was far from thirsty, but I needed to quench far more important urges. I leaned my head back crushing the bottle to make sure it had as much room as possible. I finished the bottle and pulled out a blanket. I set the blanket on my lap and started to pull my pants down.
“Look away,” I ordered unnecessarily. He had already fled to the aisle.
Okay, this is the easy part right? Just, right into the bottle. Steady.
|The Armory's beautiful banked curves.|
Instead I panicked. What if can’t stop? What if I pee everywhere? Is the bottle big enough? What if it smells bad and everyone knows? How loud will it be? What if the road gets bumpy? What if I spill it? What if I drop it? What if the bus crashes and this is how they find me?I couldn’t do it. There was way too much risk involved. No, nope, no way.
“Just hold it,” he offered again, as if this time it was still decent advice. It was nice to know I had a friend I could trust. Maybe I could try and hold it I thought. It wasn’t going to be easy; mind over matter.
I looked backward at the sleeping bus. I was taking an English course that was heavy with symbolism. I thought to myself: if this were a book, Ms. Gruber would tell us that looking backward symbolizes hindsight. I didn’t plan for this, but I really had no idea why I didn’t see it coming. Why did I drink so much? I had only drank so much because I saw an upperclassman in the locker room doing so. He had like ten empty water bottles on his bench. Maybe the he was cleaning out his locker, and didn’t actually drink all those bottles at once. Maybe I was blindly looking up at a senior, and taking advice he wasn’t actually giving. Why didn’t I pee in the morning before we left? Why did the school have to be locked? Why did I not think of this?
I kept looking back into the bus. I envied how comfortable they looked. The juniors and seniors had rolled around on top of each other in a massive pile of clothes, bags, and food. Thomas and I were the only people who were awake, except for the bus driver, who looked like he was kind of asleep anyway.
“Okay, I have to do it this time,” I said as I pushed Thomas out of the seat.
I covered myself with my privacy blanket. I pulled down my pants and placed it around my ankles. The warm rubbery bus seat felt nice against my bare bottom, and I felt privileged to have experienced such a unique sensation. I was also certain that I would have to sit in this same seat on the way home to ensure nobody had to feel unclean. But that was an issue for later. I quickly slipped the bottle under the blanket and took a deep breath.
The gentle drizzle was funny. The plastic bottle echoed the sound around inside the bottle so I tried even harder to close the floodgates and hold back a tsunami. Thomas was the only other person who could hear it. I don’t really know how the human body works or what muscles I was using, but it was certainly straining them.
I wasn’t done, but I had reached the rim of the bottle. I tightened the cap on the now warm water bottle. I didn’t want it near me, and Thomas didn’t want it near his stuff. But I couldn’t let it roll backward towards the girls and I especially couldn’t let it roll forward to the coaches. So I held it stupidly until I decided that it was weird to be holding a warm bottle of my own pee by choice. I put it in my bag on top of my fresh clothes and food.
It was still night-morning and I could probably finally sleep so I decided to not worry about it and enjoy the relief. I enjoyed this relief for the majority of an hour before the second bottle of water hit me.
“Thomas, I have to go again.”
“Yea,” I mean I did drink a whole bottle no more than forty-five minutes ago.
I picked up the still warm bottle of piss and looked back at the still sleeping bus. A group of girls slept silently behind me, and the coaches slept in front of me. The bus raced down the mostly empty highway towards the city. We were just about to leave New Jersey, and I really didn’t feel bad about dumping the bottle in this state. The world was a little brighter now, but in the literal sense, and this was bad. The sun was beginning to rise, and people would soon wake up. I acted fast.
I opened the window and the wind raced through the bus, flapping any loose article of clothing or piece of trash. It was still frigid out and the cold air threatened to wake up the mound of people behind me. It was the only noise on the bus and I counted on the volume of people’s headphones to block it out. I slowly raised the bottle over my head.
It was filled to the brim, and somehow I thought it would be a good idea to take the cap off before. My hands shook and threatened to shake the bottle’s contents everywhere. My palms began to sweat, which scientifically is the same thing as pee so I don’t know if that makes everything more or less gross. This moment couldn’t have lasted longer than three seconds, but it dragged on like the way it does in a movie when the time bomb approaches zero. The window was getting closer and the wind brushed along the surface of the water. I briefly imagined little waves of pee overflowing the bottle and crashing along the coastline that would have been my head, and then I threw my hand out the window. Tipped the bottle over onto the street, ignoring traffic laws and other drivers.
The urine fluttered out the side of the bus into the racing wind and right back onto the window of the girl behind me. Fortunately it was crystal clear; if you didn’t know any better you would have assumed it was just water. Runners often pride themselves in the transparency of their urine, and now was the perfect time to brag about it.
|Stylized photo of our lovely view of the track.|
My naive lack of preparedness was gradually being beat out of me via embarrassment. It was the tough way of learning, but experience is what makes men wise. I bet Gandhi never had to do this, so in a sense, I was wiser than him, and that made me more comfortable with what I had done.
Time passed comfortably. The sun rose. The mound of people in the back shuffled back to life. New York came into view. “Why is just her window wet?” asked a girl who had just woken up. The sunlight hit the windows of the tall buildings making the world in front of us glisten in sparkles of gold and silver. The slow moving river beneath the bridge seemed to flow on endlessly for miles. The radio station we had been listening to faded into static as we lost signal, giving us a gentle hiss. I felt weightless and ready to race.