I'm sitting in the passenger seat of my car after having just laced up my running shoes. I lean back in my seat and switch off the radio with an angry twist, as I hate talk radio and I'm already in a bad mood to begin with. I hide my purse in my back seat, my car key tucked safely in my pocket, and wait for her to show up. Just as my mind begins to wander to some ugly thought, as it tends to do when I have too much time on my hands and, like I already said, am in a bad mood to begin with, she playfully jumps up in front of my parked car, startling me out of my daydream.
I flash her the biggest smile I can muster, and no explanation is needed as to why it's less that my usual. She already knows I'm feeling melancholy - that's why were here, that's always why we come here. We're both wearing weathered cut off jean shorts that are normally reserved for running errands and indoor wear only. My hair is mussed beyond repair and I probably have smudges of mascara under my eyes. It doesn't matter though, this ritual of ours isn't one of vanity.
We start up the hill at a brisk pace, arms pumping at our sides, and get right down to cases without missing a beat. "So," I start, and ask her about her job, specific details of her love life that only I know so intimately, as I've been following them for the past two and a half years - the duration of our friendship, and make her dish about the lurid contents of our 4 a.m. text conversation from the other night. About halfway around the reservoir (a popular place for walkers and joggers in east Los Angeles), the conversation effortlessly turns to me and my woes. "What happened the other night?" "List the things you're unhappy with about your life." "What can we do to change those things?"
By the time we start our second loop around the reservoir (or "rez", as we refer to it in text messages), I'm developing a mean blister on my left heel and my bangs are plastered to my forehead with sweat...but I'm snorting from laughter at the schemes we're cooking up, and we're sharing stories of our families that are heartbreaking yet cathartic. I always know she'll understand where I"m coming from. I know she won't judge me, and that if I need to talk about my problems the entire 4+ miles, I'm not being a burden to her, because she knows I would do - will do - the same for her in the future.
Two and a half years ago I asked her, then just a friend of a friend who intimidated the hell out of me, if she wanted to get lunch. I waited for her outside a shop on Hollywood Blvd. and, in the socially terrified state of mind which I was in at the time, was convinced that wouldn't show up. When she finally did (late, which I now know is just how she do) I had a lump in my throat from worry.
She's now my closest friend, someone I can't imagine my life without...really and truly CAN. NOT. imagine being okay without her being a text message away. She makes me laugh uproariously, seethe with anger when she's been wronged, and my own heart aches when she's hurting.
When our second lap is finished, we high five, throw some encouraging sentiments back and forth, and get in our respective cars and drive in different directions home. I turn up the radio, which has thankfully now switched from talk to music, and let the cool night air flow into my face until I stop sweating. My mood has lifted considerably. My smile is genuine now, and I'm ready to face the rest of the week, whatever difficulties are thrown in my direction. I'm lucky - so incredibly lucky - to have a friend like her.