When I run I try very hard to keep my mind quiet and still. I listen to the music coming in on my iPod, hear the occasional thud of my feet hitting the pavement, a car engine but I let those sounds swirl by. I want to be present in my running. More often than I'd like my ability to quiet my mind flutters away and I find myself thinking. Lately I've been thinking a lot about my best friend in 8th grade. Her name was Cherie.
Cherie was a big girl...not in the sense of being overweight but in stature. She had dark hair and eyes and was taller than most girls and at 13 had a very mature body. Cherie seemed confident in everything she did, which was in sharp contrast to me.
I was the new kid that year. We'd moved again and this time I got to face Jr. High not only as a skinny, awkward, underdeveloped and ugly teen but as the new kid. The suck factor was high.
I don't remember the specifics of how we met but I remember the event itself as clearly as I remember my wedding day. Cherie introduced herself first, naturally and I, not willing to looked up responded with something like, "Hi. I'm Susan. I'm new." Cherie hesitated and said, "I've seen you before. You're always looking down. Why? There's nothing to look at down there."
We were best friends until she moved away a couple of months before the year ended. We spent the night at each other's houses, ate lots of french fries and talked about boys. I don't remember where she moved and I don't even remember if we wrote to each other. I do, and did to this day, remember not to look down. Ever. There really is nothing to see down there.
When running is hard or life just sucks shit, I remember Cherie and her timeless advice. Pretty smart for a 13 year old.