Little Miss Russia
I ran up Capitol Hill air drumming to some songs playing through my head phones. When I got to the top, I walked off my breath, feeling my skin press against my ribs every time I exhaled with satisfaction. The familiar burn in my lungs comforted the weariness I was trying to run off that morning. It was 7 AM on a Sunday, and there I was running up a damn hill. I’d like to think that I simply love being outside, that I was born an active person who lived to skip, hop, and jump under the sun. However, a lot of me thinks the reason I’m awake early on a Sunday morning feeling the fire in my chest and the warm strain in my legs is because of Little Miss Russia.
Since I was nine years old, every day I was told to I needed jump rope to make it as a professional athlete. Since I was nine years old, I was told that there was some little girl in Russia working harder than me, wanting to succeed more than me, and that she was willing to do absolutely anything to come out ahead. My father and multiple coaches talked about her as if they had just returned from Russia Yesterday. I always wondered how they knew how hard she trained, how fast and strong she was, and how cutthroat her attitude was when it came to competition when they seemed to spend most, if not all, of their time with me. Nonetheless, as expected, I tried to do everything I could to catch up to Miss Russia.
I never succeeded.
I thought about that little Russian girl my father and coaches had told me about as I jogged through the hills this morning. Back in the day, I was told she shoveled snow off of the tennis courts each day at 4 AM in order to practice in freezing temperatures. Other days, she was training and conditioning, not complaining, nay, but begging to be ran more, worked more, and put to the test after only having oatmeal and sometimes rice to eat. I never met this girl, but I’m sure she’s an absolute beast. I have worked myself so hard, run so hard, that I have passed out, but somehow Miss Russia was still always a skip, a hop, a jump, and a mocking little giggle ahead of me.
Surely she was grown up by now. Except, like I had changed from my days of training to be a professional tennis player, so had she. She now was making moves that counted in our twenties. Winning tennis matches back when I was fifteen in Ecuador seemed to be the most important achievement back then. Now, it was job security and maybe a stable relationship.
In my head, this little girl in Russia had grown up and moved to the United States. She went to a much more prestigious college than I did and studied something far more practical and profitable than English Literature. She took a great paying job right out of college with room for lots of growth where all of her coworkers adored her. And only two years after she graduated and took the job, she has already received multiple raises and is getting full benefits and as many vacations days as she pleases.
As far as looking to find an apartment to rent, her only numbers question is how high are the ceilings?
Oh and the part that really kills me? The salt in the wound? She’s already met her prince charming.
He’s the type of man that loves her independence as much as he does her long legs. He rode motorcycles as a kid and tames horses on his family’s ranch in Montana when he needs to blow off steam. He’s a city man, but doesn’t regret the two years he spent in Central America helping children and the elderly. His Instagram consists of artistic and aesthetically pleasing photos that resemble pages from a photo book you’d find on a coffee table. Each photo is so grand that all he needs are one word captions to get 500 likes from friends that happen to respect him just a tad bit more than they envy him.
I had been feeling good lately, but mastering a heart and tulip in the latte art department and “just” being a tennis coach at one of the coolest parks in Salt Lake City just wasn’t cutting it for me today. Not with Miss Russia building rockets to fly to Mars in her spare time and definitely being flexible and confident enough to keep it fresh and do all of the coolest sex positions with her soon to be finance.
I understand that it’s not fair to compare myself to Little Miss Russia, but then a lot of things aren’t always fair.
I came to another large incline on my run, but felt too gassed to run up it so I began to walk as I started to think about Miss Russia yet again. I took a deep breath in defeat as my mind taunted me with a simple, “Miss Russia wouldn’t walk up this incline. She would sprint it and then do ten burpies once she reached the top and still have enough energy to have some wild sex with her hot boyfriend after.” I know, I replied to my mind. I know.
Since me training for hours on the tennis court each day as a teenager while Miss Russia, I was told, was using snowballs as tennis balls just to get in some practice in the frigid and harsh winter, one thing had not changed: she was still coming out ahead.