It was the fourth time that night that she had woken up. Sweating and burning like a furnace had just been switched on inside her. She threw the covers off and waited until it was over. Waited until she could feel the chill creep back into her. Once it did, she pulled the covers back over her and tried to get back to sleep. God damn hot flushes. One good nights sleep. Was that too much to ask for? Of course, the second glass of wine she had at dinner last night wasn’t helping.
A few hours later, standing in the cold at the trail head, she hoped her bad nights sleep wouldn’t affect her run. She could just get back into the truck and text her friend and running partner a lame excuse.
I feel sick.
The school called.
The cat is sick.
Really? The cat is sick? That is the lamest excuse ever for not going for a run. Too late. Her friend pulled her truck into the spot beside hers and jumped out.
As ready as she could be to run up the side of a mountain.
They chatted for the first ten minutes or so but then the trail got steep and breathing became the priority. One day, she hoped, this would get easier.
At some point the trail leveled off a bit and their conversation started up again. As it did on most days, the topic turned to seven-year old girls and schools yard disagreements. Raising spirited girls was a tough job and they both needed all the help they could get.
“Why are girls so mean?” I asked.
“I don’t know if they’re mean or if they just don’t understand how their words can hurt people?” Her friend countered.
She told her how she had taken her daughter her lunch yesterday and seen her daughter’s friend Katy crying on the playground.
“I asked her what was wrong and she told me that Liv and Gail had told her she couldn’t play with them.”
Her friend smirked because she had heard this all many times.
“I know right. So this is how my conversation with her went.”
“Why can’t Katy play with you ?”
“It’s not my fault?”
“I didn’t say it was your fault I just asked why she can’t play with you and Gail?”
“We want to make fairy houses and she didn’t want to.”
“Yes I do”. Katy adds wiping her drippy nose.
She had told her daughter that a good friend needs to remember two things. Be kind and treat your friends like you would want them to treat you.
“How would you feel if Katy and Gail said that you couldn’t play with them?”
Her friend nodded in agreement and sympathy.
“But you know what? I bet you anything you have the same conversation next week too.” She said.
“Ya, I know. But I had to try.”
It’s a conversation they have had many times. Different names. Different scenarios. But the same general idea. All of this seemed much easier eleven years ago when she had been raising a boy.
Just as she thought her legs might give out the trail dipped briefly. But then they rounded a corner and faced another uphill stretch. No wonder they called this trail Old Buck.
“Is Don away this week?”
“Yup. And next week too. James?”
“Leaving tomorrow until Friday.”
Another shared challenge in their lives. Husbands who travelled for work. They joked about finally getting the bed to themselves again when they went away but the reality was that they couldn’t wait for the days when they came home. Having another adult in the house evened up the numbers.
“Ugh thank god.”
They had reached the top of the climb. She pulled up and let out a huge breath as they approached the junction for the next trail.
Now came her favorite part. Running down. If her friend had an advantage on the uphill, this was her time to lead. Maybe it was her low centre of gravity. She could fly down the trail with a huge smile on her face. It made the slog up the hill almost worth it.
Sometimes the mountain trails are like life. The familiar ones are often easy to navigate and even welcoming. The unknown ones can be difficult and may even seem intimidating.
“So what’s up for the rest of the day?”
“Hot lunch volunteering. Liv’s got dance after school. Hey can you email me the recipe for that apple salad dressing?”
The rest of the run was spent alternating between quiet periods punctuated with laboured breathing on the uphills and catching their breath on the downhills. All the time catching up on neighborhood gossip and laughing at parenting fails.
An hour and a half later they were back at the parking lot and both admitted to feeling better. Both women knew the power of not only a good workout but the power of good company. The past couple of years had been stressful for both of them and they had come to rely on physical exertion to solve the problems of the world. Okay, maybe not the whole world, but their world for sure.
To be continued.