Wednesday, July 31, 2013


     You've heard the phrase "lifelong friends" before. It's used frequently in those cheesy college pamphlets. You know the ones, they feature photos of groups of ...diverse... students smiling ear to ear as they study on the quad or look happily at their laptops in their completely unrealistic dorm rooms. It's always been interesting to me to picture these lifelong friendships they're describing. Do we visit each other all the time? Do we still live in the same town? Do we still go out for Froyo all the time or has that tradition carried on to our children? Are our children even friends? The concept has always been hard for me to picture, in particular, because I am terrible at keeping up with people once I stop seeing them every day.
     Well, as the summer comes to an end I find it easier and easier to picture the kind of friendship that could carry on into one of these lifelong ones that everyone is talking about. Although the friendships I'm referring to weren't formed "studying" on the quad or smiling errily in my dorm as those pamphlets depict (although I have a few of those as well.). Mine were formed in high school, during the trial of miles: on dirt roads in Georgia conveniently named "Sunny Hill" where the summer sun is hot overhead and the hills are steeper than steep and earn names like "The Bitch" (later renamed "Icee Hill" by our nicer girls team for the imaginary Icees that were rumored to reside at the top.); they were formed on the trails around Lake Overstreet where I can still picture every last God-forsaken step, and on the field at the Greenway where we almost got struck by lightning doing our last stride back to the cars. These friendships were formed through countless ab circuits, weightroom sessions, hurdle drills, hailstorms, bikeroom excurrsions, Coach speeches, car rides to practice, pushups, hotel stays, bus rides, races, and a pair of hard fought State Championships. Specifically I'm referring to my best good friends: Jodie McGuff and Kelley Bahn (and Lily Williams, but she's MIA in Nashville) who were my teammates on the Chiles Cross Country Team.
       The reason I am posting this sappy, nostalgic post today is because these girls go back to school too dang soon and this next weekend is our last weekend to hang out. I am definitely not looking forward to them leaving, but the lucky part is that I know for a fact this will not be a "see you....never" type of goodbye. We'll be hanging out when we're all old and grey if we can help it.

      Now, the story of our friendship is an unlikely one. Not to say that we are all super different because we're not. But we certainly weren't in the same social circles and at least in my case I didn't really know of them before Cross Country (I could recognize Kelley from elementary school but I didn't know her name). Anyways the point is that if I hadn't decided to join the Chiles XC team...well my life would be very very different, that's for dang sure.
     I joined  the XC team (really I guess the track team technically) in the ninth grade. I had been pestered all year up until that point to join by my older brother (who ran for Chiles for four years and was on the 05 and 06 State Championship Teams). I only really joined because I had a huge crush on a kid who was on the team at the time (embarassing, no worries he quit shortly thereafter..) Fancy that, I owe a lot of my life acheivements so far to a ninth grade crush....awkward...and creepy. Anyways I guess a thanks is in order. I'm not sure why I kept at it, apparently I was a very dweeby and not very competitive runner in the beginning, and my family was surprised I ever got any good (Thanks for the vote of confidence...) but I am very glad that I did keep at it. In my 10th grade XC season I had a particularly incredible race at Ed Radice and managed to PR by a full minute and gain a top 5 position. The rest, as they say, is history.

The funny thing about XC runners is that they're all total weirdos. Now I'm not sure if this is because you kind of have to be a weirdo to want to run all those miles, or if it's because people in general are all secretly weirdos and it's just difficult to keep the secret when you spend hours upon hours day after day with the same people. Either way, it seems to me that the weirdoness of my XC teammates has been a very consistent trait over the years. At the risk of sounding like a...weirdo... I'll just say that when I picture our friendship I picture us all just sitting around laughing about the stupidest thing until we cry, or just talking nonsense words and wriggling on the ground like grubworms, or definitely eating, or definitely being loud, or definitely something else that makes us sound like we're 12 years old. This is what I picture anyways. Those are the best kinds of friendships. With us the laughs need no explaination and wriggling like a grubworm on the ground is a viable method of bonding.
      The best thing about these girls is that they've seen me at my best (running examples come to mind, of course), such as when we won State for the first time in 08 (by the third largest margin in the history or the meet and with the fastest girls team average of all divisions that day, and in the history of the state of FL, just saying) and then again in 09. And they definitely have seen me at my worst. Examples that come to mind:  a day in midsummer that I literally cried on a Sunny Hill Road run because it hurt so bad and screamed "THAT'S IT I QUIT!" down the dirt road at the top of my lungs (and Kelley shouted back "No Kendall, Come on!") and the days we did circuit workouts at Miccosukee that could make a grown man shudder, and would all encourage each other because we all knew that it killed (People who sometimes didn't even get along in those instances would still encourage each other, because it's only through shared pain like that, that you can become real teammates. I think), and many more struggle runs come to mind, and also things that don't even have to do with running. Through good workouts, bad workouts, proms, banquets, sleepovers, these girls have always been there and laughing and crying and struggle-busing alongside me. This is why I can't even point to the exact moment that our friendship really became one, or the exact reason that it somehow still is one.

So, even though we all go to different schools now in different states, and only see each other in the summers, we are still the best kind of friends. And even though we have all changed in the little ways that you have to change when you grow up, and in big ways sometimes too, we are still as close as ever and in some ways so much more close now. It's nice to be able to spend months apart and still be on the same page when we come back. This summer has been especially fun because of these girls and I know that I'm probably going to cry like a little kid on the last day of summer camp when they leave. But I also know that they will be my lifetime friends. That they'll be around for years and years to come. That they'll be in my wedding (assumming of course that there is one..), that our children will be Froyo buddies, and that they'll be hobbyjoggers with me someday (because instead of "dust in the wind" I like to say that "We are all hobbyjoggers in the end...") and that they will certainly be there beside me on the rocking chairs when we're old ladies, if we can help it, cackling about something that wouldn't make sense to anyone else if they tried.

P.S. (And hopefully BY THEN Lily will have returned from Nashville, if only to visit (not bitter at all!)).

and that's Kendall's Kelley's Jodie's and Lily's story.

P.P.S. I love you guys!

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