the pool, hot on a september slab of concrete. a speaker singing a distinctly weekend song, listing back towards the heat of summer struggling against the onset of school. but we just repeatedly submerged ourselves and lie on hot things in the sun roasting to save a bit of heat, sort of fattening up for the winter. Peter was ripped of course, how could he not have a six pack at 16, he’s just that kinda guy. strong silent type, super cool, badass; also relentlessly nerdy, shy as can be, and definitely one of the guys you have to know well to know at all. he’s perched like a lizard on the high dive rolling over to toast each side, occasionally and jarringly rolling off the diving board upsetting the water 10 feet below and the less fit, less shy, me on the low dive (because heights aren’t my thing.)
you feel like the sun is shining through you when you lay on a black diving board like that, the surface burns your skin and the sun does its worst on the other side, you lie there. the closest we will ever feel to a cold blooded animal, or a zucchini in the midst of the broiling of a lifetime. we just lie there thinking that maybe if we didn’t move time might pass us by and leave us happily stranded in constant farewell to the pregnant bliss of the weekend. and teal, blues in abundance like a brochure to mykonos, both the sky and the water both are cloudless and still moving.
in those peaceful hours i saw fleetingly like a stag in your peripheral, the adolescence people tell you to hold onto. we did. we savored it. an experience we never talked about partly because it might seem gay and partly because what would we say. in a way it was my connection to the schoolboys i see in black and white, with my white gloves flipping through ancient yearbooks. content to lie on a hot rock by the creek with a friend you have been through hell and back with. i saw a glimpse in that moment, a glimpse of the school we would’ve attended had we been born in 1900.
Peter never chose me. he was content with the friends he had, i wasn’t cool, and i idolized him. terrible way to make a friend. but i just kinda showed up, next door, and i would just come and sit with him, uncomfortable as all hell at first, but within days we became happy to distract one another and would spend study hall sneaking back and forth between our rooms talking about rock climbing season and expensive climbing shoes. like two freshman boys did in a hundred years prior, one running into the others room discussing the intricacies of a new radio. wasting a two hour study period and leaving homework for 5 am the next morning before we went to muck their horses. and tomorrow we’d plan to sleep through study hall as a result of our long day but instead chose to scour ebay for deals on aforementioned climbing shoes.
we weren’t fast friends, but when we needed to study we could sit in silence and study and that was comfortable. also wasting our time nerding out over lame climbing equipment, but both were necessary evils and a part of our lives. for me silence was always the enemy of friendship because good friends always had something to talk or argue about. but Peter liked to listen, to say nothing, to test if it would be awkward, sometimes it was, most of the time it wasn’t. but now when i see him once a month silence is my enemy again. i want him to tell me everything, tell me the gossip, what’s happened since i left, who’s with who, who hates who, funny stories. and Peter just wants to be with his friend and sit and eat obscene quantities of brie and just exist and pretend nothing happened.
School was hard today; long homework assignments on top of essays on top of tests on top of projects and, to make my day more stressful, I spent hours anxious and worried about fears in my head. To top it off, I skipped lunch to try and end a relationship with a boy without hurting his feelings, but it made the situation worse. By my last class period, my brain was throbbing wanting to explode and my anxiety was through the roof.
I wanted to lay in bed and cry, but I thought of a semicolon and put on my running clothes.
This is where my day started to change.
I asked an amazing girl if she wanted to run with me, I knew she had to run today anyway because she is training for a half marathon, so I thought we could run together.
She said yes and we set off for a five mile run.
After about two hundred feet, a sharp pain in my calf that I get often when I run started to scream inside my leg. My negative mind set began to kick in. I’m going to slow her down… This run is going to suck. You’re not going to be able to do this. You’re such a slow runner. This is why your coach isn’t proud of you. This is why you won’t make it to CIF.
Luckily, I made an amazing decision: I took a deep breath, cast out the negative voices, and just kept running.
My running parter and I talked about school and life and running. We talked until we both fell silent as we slipped under the spell of running: our movements connected directly to our breath, the pain became a faint feeling instead of an all-encompassing sensation, our foot steps made a clip-clop clip-clop rhythm. Our breathing was all our mind focused on and we became encompassed in the aura of running.
Breath in, step step, breath out, step step, breath in, step step, breath out, step step…
My breathing was like a conductor and my footsteps were the orchestra.
I usually run alone and it’s crazy how much running with other people can change your running experience. Even when we weren’t talking, I felt like my running partner was there for me. If I fell, she would catch me. If I needed to slow down, she would stay with me. If I wanted to run ten more miles, she would run with me and I hope she knows that I would do the exact same for her. If you are reading this right now, I hope you know how grateful I am to run with you.
When you’re in the zen of running, you go with the flow, you are supportive of your peers, and you are supportive of yourself. This is how I was today.
My legs felt strong, my mind felt clear. I was next to an amazing girl, surrounded by beautiful scenery. I was happy.
Once we got to our destination, we bought drinks, smiled, laughed, talked, and stretched out our aching muscles.
Running is an unpredictable sport. Somedays you’ll run a mile and your legs will feel like lead. You’ll be miserable, in pain, and want to stop. Other days, you’ll run ten miles and feel amazing, like you could keep going forever.
On bad running days, your brain will say “stop running,” your body will say “stop running,” but you need to find it in your heart to say “keep running.”
Runs like today are the reason my heart says “keep running.”
After bad workouts, bad races, and times where I want to quit, I will think back to the run I did today and think: “Runs like that are why I love running.”
it’s a sad kind of happy when i’m with you. i love being around you, you make me smile and laugh. you make me happy.
in all honesty, i think i love you. i really think i do.
we’re friends, we talk, we hang out sometimes. i like that.
sometimes you confuse me, though. sometimes i’ll think you feel the same way about me, but then you’ll ignore me the next day.
in all honesty, you’re confusing, so confusing.
but, that’s part of who you are.
i try to understand you, because there’s so much to understand. you’re talented in so many things, but you doubt yourself. you are loved by so many people, but you deny it. you say no one likes you, but you know that i’m here.
i’m here sitting by you right now. you’re looking out the window. we’re listening to music on your phone. i have the left ear bud, you have the right.
i’m happy right now, i’m with you, but it’s a sad kind of happy
we’re listening to love songs. sometimes, i pretend that the songs are a message. i pretend the songs are you telling me you love me…. but we both know that’s not true.
the only thing i can remember is riding bikes around this small town with people who are now mundane
biking around before anyone could drive and before things got so complicated and you liked drinking so much and your new friends
when we would go down random streets just to go down them and listen to music that made us fall in love
not with each other although we loved each other but with this silly small town and the feeling it gave us
maybe it didn’t make us fall in love maybe it only made me
you’re much cooler now but we put your speaker in the bike basket and listened to music with girls singing who had much prettier voices than you and had picnics and sat in grass that made me itchy all over
and this isn’t a love story in any way nor am i mad i just wish i was more artistic and didn’t have to read on people who are much cooler than i am to become inspired
i think that’s where all of this sprouts from
my lack of creativity and artistic ability and i try but maybe i’m made to grow up and hate my job
while i’m at it i might as well just quit this whole class along with every other one too
i’ll probably just keep picking the skin off my thumbs and dedicate my life towards the absolute rotting of my brain like all my friends are doing
and i’ll stay in the same shitty town where i listened to shitty music with you in that only made us hate each other probably because your voice was prettier than hers but I would never tell you that
and this town is rainy now and not the good type of rain but the sad type and the places we used to go make me sick and you
you and your new friends exchange presents while i’m sitting there and that makes me feel lonelier than i already did
and i’m not artistic and i have good grades but if i know anything i know i don’t want to work in an office
but my family told me only people who are super motivated to do something else can get bad grades
and they tell me that will never be me
so i guess i’m going to be sitting in a office at a job i detest but if i’m lucky enough i’ll be in downtown LA or maybe new york
or maybe i’ll blend in with the rest and maybe people will think i’m cool on instagram and i’ll sit around my house on the road to fucking nowhere.
My parents tell me that I broke your heart… but I deny it.
Sometimes, I think about how we used to be. I remember that one night when I texted you asking if you knew any good places to get my guitar fixed. We hadn’t really ever talked that much before this so I was shocked by your answer. “I can fix it for you, what’s your address,” you replied. You drove half an hour to my house to come pick up my guitar. You didn’t just pick up my guitar; you played my piano, talked to me, made me laugh, and told me I had a beautiful voice and you would love to play music with me.
From that night we became closer. I remember how excited I got when you would text me, how nervous I was when you would come over, and how happy I would be when we played music together.
Weeks went by and, even though you lived half an hour away, we’d hang out almost every night after swim practice. I remember my best friend saying how perfect you were for me. At that moment, I agreed. You were an amazing guitarist who was looking for a singer in your band. You were funny and entertaining. You were an amazing swimmer. And, you actually paid attention to me, something I had never really experienced from a guy.
One night, I heard a knock on my door. There you were with a guitar case, my guitar case. I opened it to find my guitar clean, polished, and fixed. I thought you were just going to replace the string that I had snapped. I was shocked. I offered you money, but you wouldn’t take it.
That night, you kissed me. I had kissed people before in dares, spin the bottle, or other stupid party games, but this was my first real kiss. My heart beat a million times a minute, my cheeks were probably bright red, and I remember thinking how perfect that moment was. It’s crazy how much things have changed since then.
I remember how you would surprise me with flowers; how we would sneak into your guest house when your parents were home, so we wouldn’t get caught; the guitar lessons you gave me; and the food you would buy me. I met your whole family. We did a triathlon together. You finished way before me, but as soon as you crossed the finish line, you ran back to do the final stretch with me. When I ran my marathon, you woke up at five am to drive to the starting line and cheer for me and you were their when I crossed the finish line. Then, there was the time you told me you loved me, I said it too.
It seems like everything happened so fast. I had so many firsts with you. I had so many good memories with you. Before this, guys always ignored me, wanted nothing to do with me, and would never want to be part of any relationship with me. I never thought I would be the one hurting you.
I was happy in the beginning, for the first couple months, but as time went on, something changed. You didn’t change though, you continued to so many nice things for me and be the amazing person you are. You wrote me a song, comforted me when I was down, wrote me letters when I went to sleep away camp, went on hikes with me, and told me I was beautiful. You didn’t change at all, but my feelings did.
I started acting weird. I became a bit distant. I don’t know why I stopped feeling the same for you, it just happened. The day I told my parents I wanted to break up with you they said not to. “He’s so perfect, stick with him,” they said. My mom would get mad when ever I asked her how I could break up with you.
I tried to feel the same way about you again, I really did, but I just couldn’t. The day I broke up with you, you cried. You said you were okay and that it wouldn’t change our friendship, but we both knew that was a lie.
I cried too. I felt like such an awful person. My mom would tell me I deserved to feel that way, because of what I did to you. My best friend would say it too.
It’s been over half a year since we dated, yet its almost like whenever you look at me, you seem sad. We’re in the same friend group, so I see you sometimes when I’m with my friends. A couple weeks ago, I asked you what was wrong. “Whenever I see you, I just get sad. I get so jealous when I see you with other guys. I still love you,” you said.
Now, we barley talk. It’s awkward when people say your name.
Sometimes I think about how we used to be. My parents tell me that I broke your heart… I don’t deny it.