Monday, March 30, 2015

This One

This one is for Greg. Also Pam.

I am inherently an introvert. Somehow, I found myself in a job that requires constant contact with other human beings, with them basically telling me all of their most intimate secrets and me asking them to put on a paper gown after stripping naked so I can physically examine them in order to rule in or rule out some life threatening or mundane illness. After hours, I am on call almost 24/7 (occasional days off do exist), which means I must answer my phone and talk to people on it, on demand. I really do not like talking on the phone at all. I am an introvert.

Being introverted, I do not instantly make friends, winning them over with my gregarious and hilarious personality. I suppose I am actually pretty awkward and broody much of the time. It is likely that on the day I hang out with people in a social situation I have also told 3 other people they are probably going to die in the next 6 months. It weighs on you a bit. Plus, introverts hate small talk.

All that being said, I love being connected to people, and I cherish those connections. Facebook is super nice for introverts who like connections. As is going for runs with friends. As is being with people who accept my awkward broodiness and quirky sense of humor.

Greg is moving, and I think it is brilliant for him and Pam. They are ready for a new adventure, and are moving to a city that has so much to offer. Greg and Pam are, however, the kind of people you want in your community forever because they are the kind of people whom, when you walk into their presence, make you feel like life is a good place to be. Not in a syrupy way, but in a real way. Like when you are walking down a sidewalk to your car and feeling irritated because you are late for your next meeting, then suddenly a waft of rose scent stops you mid-step and you see there next to you is a rose in bloom and it is March and you still expect there to be nothing in bloom in March, having grown up in the northern midwest, and you lean over to smell the rose and all of your irritation melts away. Greg and Pam are like that.

It took me awhile to get to know Greg. I am, as previously noted, an introvert. But I watched him interact with my child and the children of others, as a coach. He has a gift for this. Good coaches can extract excellence without instilling fear and anxiety. They can promote hard work without making people feel small when they don't do well. They make kids want to show up and do well just because they feel the love and respect of their coach. Also, Greg teaches by example. He brings joy to the task of running. You see it and feel it and want to be a part of it.

In recent months, we have done several longish runs on Sundays and despite my less-than-stellar speed these days, Greg shows up and makes me feel hopeful that I might run faster again, and maybe soon. He always runs about 6 inches ahead of me, and is like a deer while I am sort of like a slim hippo. I try to draft him but it is pointless (a hippo drafting a deer?). I really like running with Greg.

My awkwardness and weird jokes do not seem to throw him. This might be due to our having survived 2 Portland to Coast High School Challenges, wherein 12 teenagers are driven through the night to run 129 miles whilst 4 adults drive the vans which smell of socks, hormones and teenager sweat. This might be due to the time he has spent with my kid, who is an apple not fallen far from the mother tree. Or it might just be due to the fact that he likes my jokes. And he is just a spectacularly nice person.

An introvert may be boring at parties, but when we have friends we cherish, we are loyal and true. I also suspect introverts make good long distance runners, because we can go for long periods of time without social interaction quite happily, thank you very much.

Still, having a true friend at your side for those runs is the best.

Greg and Pam, being an introvert I am not the best at expressing myself. But know this: you are loved, and you will be missed.

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