Wednesday, July 22, 2009

An Unlikely Friendship

When I lived in Ohio, I belonged to a large gym. I liked it and would occasionally say hi to a few people, but had one main goal every time I went through their doors: to run/workout. If I were friendlier, I bet I could have met more people. Maybe I wasn't because I knew my time in Ohio was limited? Or, maybe I'm just not friendly (hopefully not!)?

Now that I'm back in Iowa and have been here for over a month, the most time I've spent here for five years, it is very evident how different life is here. Although, by Iowa standards, I live in a city (65,000 people); by Ohio standards I would live in a mere town. The neighborhood and city is incredibly safe and many people don't even lock their doors. The pace of life seems much slower, along with the driving. It was hard to get used to driving 30 mph on city streets compared to driving on I70 or I75.

There is no large gym here for people to belong to, however there are a few smaller ones. After getting injured, I knew that I would need a gym to work out at since I would be using the elliptical religiously. Instead of paying to join a small gym for 2 months, I decided I would just use the gym at the country club my family belongs to. Their workout room consists of free weights, about 5 weight machines, 2 ellipticals , 5 treadmills, and 2 stationary bikes. I go during the day when the normal person is at work, so I never have trouble getting on machines. It is just very different than what I was accustomed to.

There is a sign when you enter the workout room that tells you to "sign in, please." We are very polite here! There is no membership card that needs to be scanned or receptionist to tell you to enjoy your workout, rather, on most days an empty room to welcome me. About a month ago, a couple older guys would come to the workout room on Monday and Wednesday afternoons. One day, one of the guys asked me if I knew someone because he saw my name on the sign-up sheet. The person ended up being my aunt, and after a while, one thing led to the next and we figured out I went to high school with his granddaughter.

Ever since that day, this man and I exchange greetings when he enters the room. We have talked about many things, from living in Africa to living in Chicago to injuries to golf. One thing that i can always count on is that he will have a smile on his face. The other day he came into the room and was grinning, ear to ear. He told me that he shot his age - 78 - during a round of golf last week. He was so proud and it made me smile.

Sometimes I have to remind myself that it is the little things in life that count. It is not about how fast or how many miles I can run or how perfect I am being, but rather, about being nice to people and simply saying "hi" to them. As someone once told me, it doesn't cost a penny to say hi.


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