Kegan made the turn for his second circuit. 130 pounds, he recorded in his little shabby notepad. He moved with robotic precision, but organic fluidity, lift after lift, nailed to perfection. In the gym he had no worries, no homework, no people to care about – it was just him and cold metal of the barbels. He wasn’t one of those body builders who goes to the gym to show off his pile of muscles. In fact, he looked like any other guy until he scaled a rock face, bulging his chest like a mountain.
The well-used gym shoes were sending the message that fitness fashion wasn’t the goal, but the result of exhausting training. He wasn’t looking for a recognition rather self-affirmation and satisfaction.
He was not sprayed on mutual courtesy. I think that day that I spent with him in the gym, was the only time when he broke his habit of silence. “You should consider exercising,” he told me, doing another squat. Ten circuits and he was stress free and ready for a day in the office.
There were two offices Kegan was a part of. First, the Reading Center, the facility that offered help for those who wanted to master college study and the second, the big call center in town, Melaleuca .
The Reading Center, as a part of the campus, carried chill and relaxed atmosphere. The average size room with big as shop front windows was a mix of all kinds of people. There were tutors, the senior or more experienced students and those who needed the help or simply, a study buddy.
Kegan was one of the tutors. He taught his students reading strategies, time management and test taking skills. There weren’t any unnecessary time gaps in his schedule and he required the same from those he taught.
Even though, there wasn’t any dress code the tutors had to follow, but fresh ironed shirt and a pair of work slacks were his usual attire. To keep it more casual, he never wore a tie. Was his look dictated by his other job or himself, is still a mystery to me. It wasn’t just his looks that were clean-cut, but his posture. Everything about him seemed so well put together, inspiring the confidence. He was a senior, hardworking and single. That’s all anyone knew about him, until you talked to him more openly.
It was the space that they shared in their mother’s belly that made Kegan and his twin brother, Ryhs close and almost inseparable. Kegan was only few minutes older, but he’s little brother seemed always to know better. Ryhs was always the one to suggest the crazy ideas.
It was his idea, when they were three years-old, to take the hockey stick and chase their younger sisters around the house. Ryhs and Kegan were partners in crime. While the youngest seemed always to get out of every trouble, Kegan suffered all the consequences.
It’s the stubbornness that made him seemed so confident, but that wasn’t the trait his dad appreciated, suppressing his bad temper.
“I’ve learned my lesson. It’s stupid to get mad,” he told me explaining why he’s chill and laid back now.
The childhood lessons didn’t go in vain and Kegan carried his nonchalance into his adulthood. When he turned 17 and it was time to go to college, Kegan simply tagged along with his twin, starting art classes. It wasn’t his forte, but he worked hard, that just the way he was. “I worked my butt off, drawing and painting,” he shared his “love” for his major with me. It took him all his college years to realize that wasn’t what he wanted for his life career.
Part of him had always wanted to go for adventures and his middle name, Indiana, seemed foretelling his possible future. There was always a struggle between self-discipline and freedom, just like in the childhood – chasing sisters around the house or being punished. Exercising was that freedom for him, in fact that’s where the stubbornness came in handy.
Kegan is a senior in university. In a week, he will throw his graduation cap in celebration of all the hard work and efforts. What will he think of holding the diploma of bachelor of arts? Will he pick up the brushes and pencils again?
“I’m just a person. I’m not perfect. I don’t have everything figure out,” he confesses.
All the confidence fades away denouncing a typical university graduate, with all the uncertainty and doubts about the future. But for now, he will start his day tomorrow with 130 pounds, well used shoes and a new self-record.