I have the marathon to thank for this realization, but in two separate capacities. First of all, the day after I arrived in Pittsburgh, as I was running around doing errands, meeting up with old friends, and basically utilizing every minute I had, my mind kept wandering back to New York. I can’t wait to go back and tell _______ about this I would think. _______ is going to love hearing about this. As I caught myself thinking these things more and more, I realized that the people I wanted to tell about what was happening to me were mostly present in my “new” life: they were the people I worked with, the people I played volleyball with. Granted, I was thrilled to death to be home and visiting with my lifelong best friend. Yes, I had a college friend in Boston whom I would immediately call when the marathon was over, because he is near and dear to my heart and had supported me throughout my training. And I would certainly contact my dear friend in Singapore, because she was so amazing that she was following my race online from halfway around the world. Ultimately, though, the random, silly thoughts that floated through my head as I walked around town, the excitement I was feeling about the race, the reactions I felt to my terrible date—these were all things I found myself wanting to share with my New York friends. Being away from them and realizing I was eager to return and tell them things is what made me realize that these people were now the ones near and dear to my heart, no longer people I spent all four years of high school or college with.
The second way in which the marathon made me realize the quality of my New York friendships occurred once I returned. I was on my computer at work a few days ago when one of my friends from volleyball, L____, contacted me.
we (m____, d____, and p____ and me) wanted to give you something for finishing your first marathon. i know this is long overdue but we figured out what to give you! i couldn’t get it because i need most of your personal info. M____ has been buggin me about it for days and i couldn’t seem to get it. we wanted it to be a surprise but i don’t know how to get it to you. we would have wanted to cheers for you at the finish line instead but pittsburgh is way toooo far for us....Needless to say, I was shocked. Really and truly shocked. I had been surprised enough when I had first returned after having run the marathon and found that these people—M____, D____, P____, and L____—had already looked up my results online in order to congratulate me. Sure, I had emailed everyone the link to the results page, but really, that email was more self-serving than anything else. I was really excited and wanted to share my excitement; I didn’t actually expect anyone to go and look. I, of all people, know how incredibly rare it is for others to share in someone’s excitement and enthusiasm for something, particularly if taking action is involved. So just the fact that they bothered to check up on how I did—that in and of itself really touched me. But to find that they were buying me a gift??? Because they were proud of me and my accomplishment?
This is one instance where words fail; there are simply no words to describe how meaningful it is to have people demonstrate that they care about you. The word “touched” is sentimental and weak. To describe wanting to laugh and to cry, wanting to hug these people and to punch them simultaneously doesn’t make sense of the emotion and indeed just makes it seem more complicated. “Ecstatic anguish” sounds far too dramatic for the reality of the situation. The bottom line is that I feel undeserving, but I do still feel overwhelmingly grateful.
The hardest part of all is that this is NYC: everyone moves on, sometimes almost immediately. Thus, I will do my best to accept kind and generous people in my life as they appear and do my best not to cling to them. The kinder and more generous they are, however, they harder this is going to be.