They say it’s important not to compare, but I don’t see how a person can possibly avoid it. I tried, for awhile, but I continued to fail, so now I compare whenever the fancy strikes me. After all, “comparing” is what made me realize what an amazing and different and unique person the City Boy is from every other person I’ve ever met. I learned, and very quickly, not only how wrong I was for so long to think that the relationship I had resigned myself to was as good as it could get (what an idiot I was!) but also how wonderful people can be for each other. Okay, I’m getting way ahead of myself here.
Here’s how it all started …
Before work each morning, a girlfriend/employee of mine and I were meeting at the gym downtown to work out. We strived to get going around 6am. Usually, you would find us in the free weight area upstairs, her chatting on and on incessantly about something personal and emotional (that’s how she rolls. The woman has NO filter for what is appropriate for disclosure. It’s amazing!) and I would sit there listening, waiting for a split-second chance to squeeze two words in edge-wise, while working on dumbbell curls or tricep dips. It was our routine. Working out that early gave us time to focus on what we were doing without the distraction of the rush hour crowds. It was quieter in the mornings, people were friendlier and machines and weights were usually free for the taking. It was the only time in my life where something was worth getting out of bed at 5AM. I needed this.
One mid-February morning, as Genia and I sat in our usual exercise area chatting about her life’s drama, a man ascended from the stairwell right behind us. He got my attention because a) he resembled Cuba Gooding, Jr., and b) he was entirely too energetic for 6:15 in the morning. “Good morning, Ladies”, he said as he walked by us. A flash of smile, mp3 player buzzing in his ears. “Having a good workout?”
We smiled back at him, said “Good morning”, and went about our conversation.
The routine seemed to repeat itself for the next two weeks.
Occasionally, after work Genia and I would throw some running clothes on and run through downtown from our office, back to the gym for another quick workout. Just something to keep us busy in the evenings, and gave us a nice opportunity to un-wind after work before returning to our personal lives at home. I must say, I absolutely loved this time of my life … not everything, but just these moments of running in the cool spring air, over the Main Street bridge, around the Jacksonville Landing, cutting across a parking lot, around the Bank of America building, and to the gym. All the while, telling stories and laughing. Laughing so hard. I was sooo happy to be both out of the house AND not at work. I think it was the first time I realized that it didn’t HAVE to be one or the other. You actually could have something ELSE to do in life. Earth shattering concept, right?
Anyway, I recall running into “Cuba” (as we had begun calling him) at the gym on some of these nights. Surprisingly, he was just as happy-go-lucky and personable in the evenings as he was in the early mornings. Our conversations were always held short, small talk pleasantries.
Then came the fateful day in late-March. Genia discovered Spinning class, and this is where things get interesting. Apparently, the gym was about to start offering Spinning classes at 6:30AM on Wednesdays and Fridays. Having been in a Spinning class a few times in my life, I already knew that I absolutely hated it! I wanted no part of it, and told Genia as much.
“Well, what are you going to do while I’m in class?” she asked.
“Oh, don’t worry about me”, I retorted. “I will just do some running while you’re in class. I think it’d be great to run around downtown twice a week.”
But then The Obvious hit me upside the head – I’m a woman, in a crime-ridden city, running alone, in the dark. Not smart, Dumbass! Actually, it wasn’t really The Obvious that hit me upside the head – it was Genia. Instantly, I wanted to protest her argument, but I knew she was right. “What about Cuba?” I asked. Sure! It made perfect sense. He was definitely in great shape and looked like he could go a few laps, he was a very friendly guy, seemed trustworthy, and of course I was interested in knowing more about him (aside from the fact that he looked great in sleeveless shirts, was seemingly nice to EVERYONE he came in contact with, and had a smile that could melt stone). I decided to ask Cuba to be my running partner the next morning at the gym.
Only … I wouldn’t be seeing him at the gym the next morning. He seemed to have vanished, and I had no way of getting a hold of him. I didn’t even know his name.
What is to come of Em’s predicament? Will she be forced to participate in grueling Spin class? Or would she run alone and end up lost and mugged in the early morning hours? What would happen if she asked some “other” fellow at the gym to run with her? Would it be a good match, or would she end up bruised and battered in an alley somewhere? Will she EVER get a word in edge-wise with Genia? All this and more on the next installment of “City Love with the City Boy”