A CROSSFIT-SIZED CAPER
By: Lauren Anderson
Last week I went to the zoo with my buddy Matt and his two kids.
It was a great time, and the moose was out in all her glory. And I don’t know why I feel this way, but I always think when the moose is out, that’s good luck. She likes to hide…
We rode the carousel which is also a zoo MUST. As those of you who read this blog regularly know… I LOVE THE CAROUSEL. Because, say it with me now:
“Nothing restores the spirit like a carousel ride”.
After a fun time saying hello to the new baby farm animals, and feeding the goats, we headed back towards the building to get some lunch. On the way back were Camels and a Tiger and then…. the Pronghorns. If you’ve never seen one–think of regular deer with glorious ram horns. They’re cool, and I’m glad that I got to see them, but let’s be honest… not many people come out to the zoo to see the Pronghorns.
I know. It’s not fair. These glorious animals deserve glorious attention.
But I’m convinced that the Pronghorns could care less, and don’t mind being overshadowed by the Prairie Dogs and the Buffalo right next door. Besides, the Prairie Dogs are hilarious little attention hogs and they relish the crowds and the play up the antics.
The Prairie Dog area holds a special spot in my heart because that is also where I can find my brother’s bench. When my brother Kevin died, the family dedicated a bench to him. With specifications that his bench overlook the Prairie Dogs, because they were his favorite.
Every year they bring in the benches in October and put them out again sometime in April. So I was expecting to see it.
When we rounded the corner, I looked for Kevin’s bench. What I saw were three benches similar to the one Kevin has, but none of them had a plaque. His bench was not there.
I immediately texted my Mom. “At the zoo, and Kevin’s bench isn’t here. Do you know why?”
She texts back quickly. “They might not be out yet. Sometimes they don’t come out until May when they extend the hours at the zoo.”
I text back. “Yeah. But there are other benches here. Just not Kev’s.”
I start to get this weird feeling. You know that feeling when you don’t want to make something a big deal, but it actually feels like a REALLY BIG DEAL. And you feel like crying, but you don’t want to because you don’t know if it’s worth the tears yet? Anxiety. Dread. What do I do?
All the while trying to be nonchalant around Matt and his kids, cause this is the first time I’ve ever met his brood and I don’t want to be Dad’s crazy friend that cries about a bench.
But I’m sure Matt can tell, because he’s cool like that and has a pretty high EQ (emotional intelligence). He gives me some space to fret and figure out what I’m doing/feeling. It’s all unsaid of course, but I knew that’s what was happening.
I mean, you all get it right? It’s not just a bench. It’s a place to go and remember my brother. I like to picture him sitting on that bench and laughing, watching the Prairie Dogs do their Prairie Dog things.
It’s a way to honor him and remember him at one of his favorite spots doing one of his favorite things.
So I just start to walk around. Matt is busy with the kids and they’re watching the Prairie Dogs, like Kevin’s bench is supposed to be. I retrace our steps. I see some other benches back up the walkway, and I head over. Maybe his bench got misplaced? I walk up and investigate.
Under a lovely tree in a lovely spot I see a bench. And guess what? It was Kevin’s. And you guessed it. It was facing the wrong direction. Overlooking the glorious…Pronghorns.
Again, not trying to throw shade at the delightful creatures—and the fact that due to increased zoological efforts their numbers are growing in the wild— but C’MON!
Let’s be clear here. We can all agree that the Pronghorns are not the big draw right? Wild Planet er whatever that channel is didn’t have a popular TV show about PRONGHORNS.
The Pronghorns are like a bonus animal. The appetizer. But they ain’t the main event.
And certainly not what I imagine my brother wanting to watch in his ghostly/celestial body. Although, Kevin loved all animals so I don’t think he’d mind per say. And he also had a pretty sophisticated sense of humor (a lot of people who have depression do), but again—C’MON!
I text my mom again. “I found his bench. It’s out, but it’s facing the wrong direction at the Pronghorns.”
She texts back something very measured. “Oh! That’s weird. Wonder if that will stay or if they aren’t in a final place yet?”
I want to text her back and be like “GET ON THE PHONE MOM AND WIELD SOME MOTHER POWER AND GET THEM TO MOVE THIS DAMN BENCH.” But I don’t. I just walk back to Matt.
“I found the bench.” I say. “But it’s over there.” And I point to the deer with the horns.
Matt quips, “Ah. In front of The mighty Pronghorns. Those fascinating creatures.”
I laugh. We joke about it for a sec, and then I say, “What should I do? Should I call someone? Track someone down? I want my mom to call. I feel silly making it a big deal, but the bench is not where it’s supposed to be.” Matt just listens. He is taking his cues off me, I think.
I don’t know what to do, so I just stand there. Then, half joking I go, “Or we could just move it.”
And Matt goes. “Okay. Let’s do it.”
I stop. My heart kind of swells. I smile. “Really?!” I think. I mean, I’m a rule follower– but I never follow rules that I think are unjust. And this is no justice. I’m sure it was no malice either. Maybe it was a new bench guy and he got it mixed up?
I mean, we weren’t hurting anything. We were righting a wrong dammit!
And here’s the coolest part: Matt didn’t even hesitate. While I was weighing the consequences of moving the bench ourselves, he just kind of started to roll his stroller to safe spot where he could keep an eye on the kiddos, and then moved to one side of the bench, ready to lift it.
Which got me thinking about the power of friendship.
And how the right friend crossing your path at the right time can make all the difference.
I move to the other side and we bend down to pick it up. And when we lifted the bench, I could feel my anxiety and my dread lift as well.
You know when you just decide something about someone in a moment and it feels so true? Well, in that moment I decided that even if we never speak again from this day forward, he will go down in history as “one of the good ones”.
Matt and I bend down to check and see if we can even move this bench. It’s heavy for sure, but it’s not unmanageable. I say, “It’s only a couple hundred feet. We got this.”
And Matt says, “Yup. Thank God you do CrossFit.” I laugh. But I have a confession to make.
* * *
Confession: I haven’t been working out as consistently as I have been in the past.
Between intense therapy that has got me in a pretty raw and very transitional phase (DON’T FRET THOUGH! It’s a VERY good thing!!!), and a somewhat hectic schedule, I’ve been having trouble making it a priority.
But I can feel my body miss it. Somewhere in between all the blog posts, working out has become a “normal”. And I missed the gym.
Then, randomly on Saturday night I ran into my friend Maureen at a party. After an affectionate hello, I ask, “Hey. Do you still go to the gym on Monday night?”
She says, “I haven’t been in awhile, I need to get back.” I confess I’m in the same boat. I don’t need to explain– she GETS IT.
Without hesitation she goes, “This Monday. 5:30. I’ll show up for you, and you show up for me. Let’s get back to it.”
My heart swells again. I think again, “Hot damn, she’s one of the good ones.”
How did I get so lucky?!
On Sunday she texts me to remind me to sign up for class, cause she has excellent follow-through. And before I know it, It’s Monday and I’m back at the gym.
To my joy and surprise, as if the heavens opened up and and showered me in gifts, a bunch of other gym friends showed up that day too. Bobby was coaching. It was hug after hug and excited salutations. Jessica, Amelia, Garret, Matt (different from zoo Matt), Katie, Laurel, Maureen (of course) to name a few, but seriously everyone in that joint that night was someone I like and enjoy working out with.
Icing on the cake? Even Coach Jenn was back for a workout. And I hadn’t seen her in far too long, and if you recall she was my gateway Coach into Solcana. The original Blogmaster. And a very close friend.
Kira remarked when she walked up to the circle, “Ooo. All the fun people are here.” And I couldn’t help but smile in a agreement. And she was right. Those fun people made for a very fun class.
Good friends can make all the difference. In life, and even in working out.
Afterwards, Maureen had to dip, so I was catching up with Jenn and we were talking about the Avengers Endgame. Neither one of us had seen the movie yet, and we were lamenting about all the potential spoilers. So we got our phones to try and set up a date.
But then I was like, “I wish you were free tonight.” And she was like, “WAIT. I AM FREE.”
Boom. We went and saw the movie right after class in our workout clothes.
On the way to the car I thought, “Okay Universe, now you’re just showing off.”
* * *
Cut back to the zoo.
Matt and I moved the bench easily and quickly. We swap the plain one for Kevin’s bench and move it into it’s proper spot with a good view of the Prairie Dogs. As it should be. We pulled off a caper thanks to CrossFit and the power of saying yes.
We hi-five and I thank him. He simply says, “Of course. It had to be done.”
A friend knows what it takes and is willing to do it. No explanation needed.
I text my mom immediately and said, “Mischief managed! Matt and I just switched the benches.”
And my mom texted back, “Kevin would have liked that! I do too.”
These last couple of days have been a good reminder that I don’t have to do it on my own. There are friends out there, piles and piles of “the good ones” waiting to help, and make it fun, and lift the burden– or the bench.
“I’ll show up for you and you show up for me.”
No Explanation Needed.