The Healing Power of Two Hummuses

Yesterday as I was walking from my car to my dorm after work, I felt antsy. The sunset was turning the sky cotton candy pinks and blues, and the air was pleasant, and I was craving a run. So I went straight to my room, changed into workout clothes, and headed out.

But after half a mile, an ache in my left knee reduced me to a pathetic limping hobble. I stopped, stretched, and started running again, but after just a few steps the pain cut me down again. I have no idea why. Nothing happened to injure my knee; this ache seems completely spontaneous. It’s incredibly frustrating because I hate the gym.

I tried going at that point, because I was determined to burn the pent-up energy I had. But as soon as I walked in, I felt smothered. The heavy, humid air and the masses of strangers moving in place on these tight rows of machines… It all feels so artificial and suffocating to me. I told myself I had to stay on the elliptical for at least 15 minutes so my (100% disinterested) elliptical neighbors wouldn’t judge me, but I quickly reduced my set minimum to 10 minutes. I literally counted down every second. Running outside is exhilarating and energizing to me. I realized last night that most of the appeal is in the fresh air, the solitude, and the changing scenery— three crucial factors that are glaringly missing from the gym.

So I made myself suffer through exactly 10 minutes of gym time before rewarding myself with $5 of fresh cut mango and kiwi from the fruit bar: the gym’s single redeeming quality.

The fruit consoled my frustrations at not being able to run, but to really bring my mood back up I knew I needed an especially excellent dinner. I wandered unhopefully to the Great Hall. Just as I stepped through the door, I spun back around on a whim and headed for the Greek food stand just outside. The man was already closing up, but when he saw me approaching he stepped back behind the counter.

“Now I don’t have much left,” he said apologetically.

“That’s okay,” I responded. “Tell me what you do have.”

He dug through some aluminum-wrapped gyros, calling out what he found, but as a vegetarian I opted for the hummus.

“Here, I’ll give you two,” he said as he filled my bag. “Two hummuses and two pita breads.”

“Oh, I only need one!” I said quickly. “I’m not very hungry.”

“No, no, I’m only charging you for one,” he said cheerfully as he handed me the bag. “I’m done for the day anyway.”

It was the highlight of my night. How often are people that nice?? And what excellent hummus it was, too. (I currently have three kinds of hummus in my fridge.) The pita bread was soft and warm, the hummus was thick and perfectly garlicky, and the best part was that I had two of each!! Back in my room, I dug out my grapes and feasted on fruit, hummus, and pita.

Needless to say, my mysteriously aching knee seemed much less dire with that sort of food in front of me. But as the food is now gone and the ache remains, I welcome any suggestions for a longer-term solution…