On Wednesday morning I was driving through Cornelius, North Carolina--a quaint and sleepy-feeling town just about a half hour north of Charlotte. As I drove through downtown, three twenty-something guys were running at a quick pace down the sidewalk in running shorts and thin tee-shirts that were soaked through and clung to each one of their chests. They were tall and lean and all had the same hair cut--they looked like they were once cross country teammates and had been running together ever since.
Suddenly I thought of all the running I've done in my life, specifically at Ragged Mountain Running Camp--that hazy weather and the early runs in the still-dark morning of Crozet, Virginia. My best girlfriends, feeling more like family than ever in that old house at the bottom of the hill. The sports bras hanging in the shower, the beds we insisted on moving into one room so we could all be together the whole week. The bottled Starbucks drinks Shawna kept in the tiny fridge, the bunched-up newspaper we all stuffed into our wet and muddy running shoes after every run. It was breakfast in the cafeteria and afternoon races and baby I'll be your huckleberry playing on repeat.
I've lived in Virginia for most of my life (Minnesota was such a significant time and the Midwest really spoke to me in many ways, but I forget sometimes that it was only a year), but that morning, driving down the road in North Carolina, I felt so thankful to be back in the South. Thankful for this deep and Southern part of myself that I didn't realize I had. Thankful for life on the East Coast. And thankful for the friends that were once cross country teammates, who I've been running with ever since.