The young woman’s eyes gave away her feelings.
Two other college-age women approached her and set up shop on the elliptical trainer right next to her. They acknowledged each other like they knew other and the two women said something that I couldn’t hear. The woman who had been working out smiled, but her eyes gave away her feelings. Her eyes shifted one way and then the other. In mid-stride, she took a towel and wiped her face. She acted like she was wiping away the sweat, but I had the distinct impression that she was wiping away her tears. She tried to keep up a brave face, but, to me an outsider, she looked lonely and hurt.
I increased the speed on my treadmill and continued with my own workout, but I couldn’t help checking back every so often on the three women in front of me. They seemed to know each other, but she had a look like she had been left out, excluded from the discussion or from some future event. I have no idea about what happened. I wasn’t privy to the backstory, but it didn’t take a genius to see that something was going on.
If I ever make it to the pearly gates, my question for God will not be about the big things like the meaning of life. I will not be asking why I never won the lottery or even whether Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in shooting President John F. Kennedy? No, my first question to God will touch on none of those topics. Instead, I’ll be asking God about the perils of navigating friendship and why it can be so damn hard.
It’s not just girls. It’s Mean Guys too.
I’m a horrible dealing with the challenges that friendship causes, so I naturally could feel for the woman. I’ve been in her very situation. I’ve faced those same very choices: Storm off in a huff? Keep a stiff upper lip, never letting them know you’re upset? Give the offending party a piece of my mind, forever ruining whatever chance of a relationship might have existed? Oh, I’ve most certainly been there.
In this case, there’s nothing I could do to change the situation for the woman. I couldn’t snap a finger and make everything perfect again. I could do none of the sort, but I did the next best thing. When I saw the woman later, walking out of the gym, I nodded hello and told her “good workout.”
I’m sure she questioned, “Who’s this strange guy?” Instead, she smiled, this time looking a little more authentic and said “thanks.”
I’m sure it didn’t change things. Hopefully, though, it was the start of a better day.