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Anybody who has ever liked someone else knows a couple of things to be true. First, when you look nice, the person you like won’t see you or be in the general vicinity. Second, those days you don’t care how you look because you’re not going to see anyone, you’re just going out real quick, you not only will see your crush, but you’ll be in a hostage situation and end up sitting next to them for a couple of hours. This is how I used to think The Law of Attraction worked and, in a remote way, it kind of does.

I happen to like a certain guy at my gym. I call him The Cute Runner. The man is half Thoroughbred because he will just run for an hour and look happy doing it. He’s been doing it for a while too because he’s figured out how to run for that long and still smell good afterwards.

The first time I talked to him was on laundry day. The outfit I wore to the gym was the only one that didn’t walk over to me and say, “I think it’s time for me to be washed.” I sported my red sweatpants and tie dyed Kingston Mines shirt, which I discovered as I got on the elliptical had a hole in it right over my lower back (ventilation?). I also happened to be doing interval training that day so I’d go back and forth from being able to breathe and function at a human level to sprinting, face turning crimson, and convincing my body no, really, it could do this.

My final sprint is one of those all out-ers, the most resistance you can handle and running like someone is after you. So I’m going for it when I hear, “Hey.” It’s the Cute Runner. Still sprinting and shocked he talked to me I manage to say “Hi.” He starts on his elliptical. “So how’s it going?” It feels like I am running through drying cement, my face is a strawberry, I’m dripping sweat and I’m in clothes I usually only wear around the house. “Great.”

My cooldown starts. I can’t cool down  because the Cute Runner has talked to me and I’m trying to figure out what to say. Suddenly he stops and hops off the elliptical. I say the first thing that comes to mind.
“You’re a runner?”
“What?” He takes out his ear buds.
“You’re a runner?”
“What?”
“Runner. You run?”
“Yeah. You?”
I average 5 miles a day and I’ve been steadily reducing my mile time. I’ve worked hard and been proud to tell others I’ve gotten into running. Do I tell the Cute Runner?
“No.” I say. What? “But I’m getting into it.”
“Oh,” he cleans off the machine. “Get into it slow.” And walks away.

Ever since then, if I’m uncomfortable wearing something or something is off, I know he’s going to step on the treadmill in front of me. I cleaned my shoes because I stepped in something on my way in. Couple minutes into my bike ride, I start smelling it. I’m one of 5 people in the entire gym at the moment so I bull through it. The Cute Runner decides he’s going to bike and gets on the bike next to me.

Last night we lost power so I wasn’t able to shower. Today I woke up late and didn’t shower before going to the gym. The rest of me looked nice, but my hair, before I pulled it back, made me look like I was the bass player in a death metal band. I also have transition lenses in my glasses which tint when I’m in sunlight. I sometimes look like the photos I’ve seen of Annie Sullivan, Helen Keller’s teacher, with her smokey glasses (at least I look like someone who changed someone’s life). As I enter the gym, I see that distinctive comfortable running gait. Never fails.

I finally realized what was going on: that guy’s my soul mate. The universe provides me with opportunity after opportunity to look hideous in front of him so we are at our most comfortable with each other.

No, these encounters have taught me it’s okay to fail. I need to be comfortable looking like I just ran high intensity intervals when I did just run high intensity intervals. Laundry days happen. I need to be comfortable how I am in order to evolve into the person I want to be and need to be. Yes, I’m okay now. I need to accept the fact that I’m okay now so I can move on.

I had foot- in- mouth situations with the Cute Runner because I didn’t feel I was good enough. He is a runner. You can tell being on the treadmill is one of his favorite parts of the day. I’m new to running so I was intimidated. I am good enough. My very being is enough.

And, hey, I own a Kingston Mines shirt. I know where they are in Chicago and I love the blues. So there.

Who would’ve thought watching a cute red-headed runner would’ve brought clarity?

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