birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

The Workout by The Pool

The music drowned out our huffing breaths.

We were doing mountain climbers or up-downs or who knows what else that felt like we were going to puke. A small group of four of us and one trainer. Well, actually three of us. The fourth girl kept having to take a smoke break. She sat on the couch and burned down her third cigarette of the hour workout.

During a water break, I finally worked up the nerve to mention to the girl with the Oklahoma City Thunder cup that I actually used to live in OKC.

"I did too," she said.

I expected, like all Okies, for the next questions to be about Oklahoma or Oklahoma State. But she rolled her eyes slightly when she mentioned she went to Oklahoma. She wasn't big into football. I knew everything about the team I once covered for a job. I couldn't believe it. She was so not like anyone else from Oklahoma I had met. The guy she was with, at the end of the workout, asked for my number. Not in a weird creepy way. In a, 'Hey we both live in this apartment complex and just got our butts kicked in this workout, but when we aren't covered in sweat, we should hang out' kind of way.

Every time you enter a fitness class, the odds are greatly in your favor you won't know nearly anyone in the room. They are all strangers. You're constantly sweating next to and competing against strangers. A lot of them make you feel uncomfortable like you aren't good enough or flexible enough or fast enough. They do it in subtle ways, by cranking up the speed on the treadmill or increasing the incline on the elliptical. Sometimes, it's your inner judgments playing out. But great classmates cheer you on and hope you'll succeed. That's what these two did. It didn't seem weird to struggle in front of them because they showed their struggle too. They sweated, they had a hard time finishing the rep, they pushed themselves.

It's a good thing the guy got my number that day. That workout, that ask of the digits was the best ones yet. That day was the start of what is currently going on its third year of a friendship with Paris and Amanda. That day at the workout, I wasn't much up for going outside my comfort zone. I wanted to put the work in and get back to my apartment and get some work done. But then again, I was living in my third major city since graduation in which I knew no one. I'd gone through not having any time to make friends to flat out not having any friends in the two previous cities I lived. So, heck, Houston seemed like the perfect place to finally make some good, real, close friends.

Today, we're roommates. Amanda and I have standing Tuesday morning spin class dates. Paris and I have a 30-day ab workout we're in the middle of completing. They have taught me how to be more accepting and grateful. I have taught them how to get in a workout before your day starts so nothing gets in the way.

Together, the three of us have so much fun and so many memories from sweating (and not sweating) together. I can't imagine what my life in Houston would be like without them. Probably lonely, the exact way I felt when I lived in the other two cities.

So these days we spend lots of time talking about things like sprints & savasana.


I Confess