Friday, June 17, 2011
In a New York Minute
A little more than two years ago, I gave a red headed runner I'd never met before a ride home from a track workout at Johnson C. Smith University. Through the internet, Facebook and approaching people randomly at races (including an easily excitable bald headed guy and a super fast Brit), a handful of us had met there in search of people who wanted to get a training group started. On the car ride to her house we both bemoaned about our experience in Charlotte thus far. We each had a few close friends, but wanted something more. We wanted a community and we agreed the scene was a impenetrable. We talked about how Charlotte was a speed bump on the route to bigger and better things for both of us. We liked it here, but we didn't love it. We'd both jump at the next opportunity to go some place else.
I'll never forget that car ride for two reasons. First, because it was the first conversation I had with one of my best friends. And second, because we were both so wrong.
I don't have to give anyone a history lesson, but I will expand on the permanent impact being a runner in Charlotte has had on my life. The community that grew from those impromptu track sessions not only introduced me to more people to run with than I could ever imagine, but it introduced me to my Charlotte family. Because of running, I directly or indirectly met roommates, teammates and even a soul mate. The woman who is going to be my wife in less than three months became a part of my world because I am a part of that world.
And oddly enough, that is how I find myself alone in my new Manhattan home right now, walking a tightrope between being thrilled and feeling empty. When we first started dating, Lauren cautioned me of her plan to leave Charlotte, and I told her I'd follow her. It wasn't some cheesy pick up line. I meant it. I knew early on that she was the person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. So, when she was accepted to school in New York City, I knew I had to find a job. I was contractually obligated to work at my Charlotte job until April of 2012, unless I could pay several thousands dollars to dissolve the contract. Lauren was starting school in September and we were prepared to live apart for at least seven months. Still, with such a narrow and highly competitive employment target, I thought it would be OK to start feeling out the landscape of television news in New York.
What I did not expect was to have a job offer at the number one television station in the United States within weeks of putting out those feelers. The offer allowed me to meet the financial requirements to make an early exit from WBTV. Career wise it was a no-brainer; a dream job with a network. Relationship-wise, it was another no-brainer. It turned the tables on who would come to New York first, but drastically cut down the amount of time we'd have to spend in a long distance relationship. I took the job and I start tomorrow.
But that easy decision lead to one of the hardest tasks I ever had to do -- giving up a routine, and a present spot in a group I felt more at ease with than any group of people I have ever been a part of. I know the friends I made in Charlotte will be my friends for the rest of my life no matter what the distance between us. The distance we traveled together both literally and figuratively created an unbreakable bond. But that doesn't make it any easier to know that when I wake up tomorrow to go for a run, I won't be meeting Caitlin somewhere on Morehead Street, Aaron at the Dowd, Paul at Old Bell, Billy popping out of the bushes somewhere or Ben and Megan coming down Sardis Road from their house. No amount of time or new training partners will make me not miss seeing their faces and running stride for stride with all of them or the countless others with whom I shared long runs, short runs and workouts.
You see, the running scene in Charlotte became a community. An open, accepting, inclusive and embracing community. I don't like Charlotte. I love Charlotte. It wasn't just a speed bump. It was a Sunday long run...one of those Sunday long runs where the miles just click by, you don't look at your watch and you never want it to end.