When we decided to move back to Indianapolis in 2007 when I was pregnant with Luke, I couldn't wait to get here. We were going to be closer to my family in Chicago, and Jeremy's family in Danville, and our friends...we were going to be closer to our friends! I envisioned cookouts, and double dates, and watching NFL football together on lazy Sunday afternoons while drinking beer and eating chili.
But here's the thing...when you move away for as long as we did (5 years) people obviously fill the gap that you left behind. It's not that our friends made new friends and replaced us, it was more that we'd all just become different people with different interests. When Jeremy and I left, we were engaged and in our mid twenties. When we moved back, we were 30 with a baby on the way. And all of a sudden those lazy Sundays were accompanied by watching NFL football while assembling nursery furniture.
I missed our friends in Charlotte. A LOT. And I asked Jeremy at least a thousand times in that first year why in the world we moved back. We had wonderful friends in Charlotte. The weather was gorgeous. We had great jobs. But I knew, deep down, we were always supposed to be here. We were both born and raised in the Midwest. You just cannot beat it in my opinion. There's nothing like raising a child with good old Midwestern values. But I still struggled.
I had Kelly...thank God. When you become a new mommy, you go through more changes than you ever thought possible. Physical, emotional, HORMONAL. Ugh... I needed the support of my family, and my husband, but I also needed a best friend. I needed someone that I could email/call/text at 3:00 in the morning, while feeding a baby, and crying out of pure frustration and exhaustion at the same time. And I needed someone to be going through it at the exact same time as I was. I can't begin to express how blessed I am that our first born children are only 3 weeks apart. Because if they weren't, who knows if we would have stayed on this same life schedule and learned all this together. And in turn, we're now inseparable.
But again, I still struggled. I remember emailing Kel about a year ago and I was a mess. I didn't have many girlfriends. I mean the kind of girlfriend that I call a "refrigerator friend". You know, the kind where you can walk straight into their home, and grab yourself a cup, and go to the fridge for a drink before you've even said hello. I realize that I am very lucky to even have a few of these women in my life. And I did...I had a few. But I have always been a person who enjoys a lot of close friendships. I'm outgoing, and energetic, and I feel as though I have a TON of love to share. And I love nothing more than sharing that love with my family and my friends.
So on and off throughout the next few months that same feeling of loneliness came in waves. And then one day Kel started asking me about running with a group of girls she had joined up with. We were all training for one race or another. So already we shared a pretty big passion. I've said it once and I'll say it a million more times...us runners are a weird breed. And we get that. We do something that non-runners will never understand. But that's why it is so important for us to have this community. This network of people who know exactly what we are going through.
Well the stars aligned one Saturday morning last summer and my schedule was going to allow me to meet up with these girls for a 20 mile run. Yep, that's a long one alright. The only problem? Kel was out of town. So here I was, headed to meet these ladies, at 6AM, in the middle of a dark McDonald's parking lot. Yikes. I may be outgoing and energetic...but what if they didn't like me?!
Thank God that wasn't the case.
I can honestly say that my life was changed forever after that first run with the girls on that hot August morning last summer. And yes, I know, to some that might sound odd. But trust me...these are my people. I'm not saying I've rejected any friend in my life who isn't one of my runner girls. In fact, I need to make a more conscious effort to spend time with those friends, too! But there is something so special about my running group, dubbed the Perfect Strangers. These are my girls. And I am so happy...like beyond words happy...to call them my close friends.
And they damn well better feel comfortable walking into my house, grabbing a cup, and heading straight to the fridge for a drink before even saying hello...even if it is 3:00 in the morning.