Climbing Mountains

A lovely woman (we’ll call her “C”) had recently posted a comment onto my Facebook page, asking me how I’ve been. I’ve blogged a little about C in the past:

yet not as much as I should have.

As I mentioned in my previous blog post, I wasn’t a fitness enthusiast at all. In fact, I loathed the idea of exercise. I was extremely young and just assumed that I’d always stay skinny and toned. There were moments where I’d attempt to hop on the work out bandwagon, only to hop right off at the first sign of ice cream or Chinese food. It wasn’t as though I laid about all day on the couch, fingers wrapped around a remote control and idly changing channels. (I picture a string of drool languishing in the corner of my mouth). No, no.  I had a full time job, one that was stressful and put me into rush hour traffic, one hour each way (I don’t miss that, not one bit). I remember rollerblading in the late evening, to steer clear of the intense Arizona heat. I would pretend to run around the block, or do half-assed sit ups and push ups. I did SOMETHING, as long as no one called it exercise. Or working out.

Now, let me tell you about Ms. C., a woman who was (and still is) incredibly gorgeous, and very fit. She and I worked together but at opposite ends of the office. We didn’t run into each other often, but we had the same lunch hour, and we’d spend it in the tiny little room that passed as a cafeteria, of sorts. There was a microwave, and a fridge, and a small round table. A sign that hung above the sink, warning it’s inhabitants to “clean up after yourselves; your mother doesn’t work here.” The first thing I noticed about C (other than her beauty and her killer legs) was the consistency of her lunch. It was always soup. Not Campbells, or some comparable canned variety. It looked a little too healthy for my taste, encased in a paper sack, and she’d always mix a little water with the contents and stick it into the microwave. I didn’t understand how she could eat the same thing every day, but I’m sure she didn’t understand  me, either. I was a young punk kid, just pushing 21, and she was roughly 10 years older than me and was much more wise and you could tell how grown up she was.

Most of the time we’d just sit in companionable silence. I had been a huge book worm, and would bring something to read (or I’d have the latest People on hand). Usually C would take the soup back to her work station. There were days though where we’d chit chat a bit, and learn a little more about each other. She had an old beat up truck that she absolutely loved, and told me she might have to get rid of it and get something new, and this broke her heart. Or she would tell me about her penchant for running and walking up mountains, and I was in awe of her free spirit and her simplistic nature. So many people are always out for the latest thing, and C wasn’t about that. You could tell she was grounded and real.

When she asked me if I’d like to join her for a climb up Camelback Mountain, I was very excited and felt as though I’d been given the golden ticket. The really cool mature woman wants to hang out with me? She worked an earlier shift, so we both agreed to meet at the Mountain at 5:30pm, shortly after I clocked out. I had no clue what to bring to a mountain climb. I wore shorts and a t-shirt, some sort of sneakers, and I vividly remember purchasing a rather large bottle of water to carry with me, knowing I’d need to hydrate in the hot Arizona sun.

Imagine C, standing there at the base of the Mountain, hands on her hips and looking glorious in her running shorts and sports bra. I asked her what she’d done while waiting for me, and she replied, “Oh, I ran 5 miles.” Just like that, as though she’d breathed air or blinked. She made it sound so easy. I thought she was NUTS. During our climb up, she ended up carrying that completely obtrusive water bottle for me, because it was too heavy for my weak ass. I wasn’t kidding in my blog post regarding the oldies passing me by. They really were, these silver-haired fitness buffs who smiled sweetly at me, probably laughing inwardly at the young girl who couldn’t keep up. I let that all go though once we got to the top. It was incredibly dark out, and I swear I saw something cat-like not far from where I stood, but it never bothered me as I drank in the scenery and felt more alive than I’d felt in my entire life. I’ve always been a nature lover, but this was on a completely different level!

I didn’t see C much after that experience. I moved out of Arizona and eventually ended up in Nebraska. We don’t talk on the phone or have conversations, although we are friends on Facebook. It works for us. Yet, I can’t help but think of her from time to time while I’m heading into mile 20 of a marathon, or participating in a fun run that requires me to climb up ropes or walk endlessly through mud. I have come to hold C in very high regard. She knew what the score was. Eating healthy (and living healthy) was in fashion for her before it was in fashion, if that makes sense. She is passionate about her health, and when I finally picked up that fitness spark roughly a decade later, there was a moment where I could remember her reaching over and grabbing my water bottle without even saying a word or asking me if it was OK, because she knew and understood it was what I needed. She just knew, and that’s how cool I want to be.

In my circle of friends, I’m known as the crazy one. I enjoy my marathons and the challenges I can get from an intense boot camp class, and if there were mountains out here to be climbed, I bet I’d be the first one in line. I’m not nearly as healthy when it comes to food (I still love my sweets and Chinese; I’m working on it) , but I hope I can motivate and inspire someone to join me on the journey, like she’d done for me so many years ago. We all have to start somewhere.

As for C? She is still rocking it, of course.  I see her pictures, and I can tell she’s had some incredible moments in her life. I asked her if she’s still climbing up mountains, and she said it’s still one of her favorite things to do.

I couldn’t imagine a better response than that.


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