I share my yarns, and she shares hers — in afghans, scarves, and more
“What a great way to start the day!” Connie said as we headed to our cars in the barely morning light.
“Yes,” I agreed. “A workout and a massage!”
“Thank you again for that wonderful gift,” she said.
“That you shared with me!” I said, pointedly.
“It’s more fun to do it together — even if we aren’t really doing it together.”
We had met on the treadmills this morning, done “the line” of weight machines in the health club, and skipped our stretching so we could spend 10 luxurious minutes in the Chill room instead.
This quiet, spa-like room is filled with warm (not chilly!) hydromassage recliners, each separated by sheer curtains. I had purchased a gift certificate for Connie’s Christmas present — 15 10-minute sessions of Chill time. But she had to use them within 30 days, and she didn’t want to waste a minute. So she had me use it too.
We entered the room together, each chose our favorite recliner and “chilled” for 10 minutes. Then we gathered our belongings and walked out together. My gift to Connie.
It feels like a present I gave myself. Connie is, too.
Christmas gift or goodbye?
For Christmas, Connie made me a beautiful afghan — the most beautiful one she’s ever made, she said. All blues and pinks and purples with legitimate flowers and intricate patterns. It is large enough to cover my tall body and then some, should I decide to snuggle on the couch with my husband or grandchildren.
How long had she worked on this masterpiece? How many skeins of yarn had she used?
Weeks before Christmas, Connie surprised me with the afghan in the parking lot. I rather feared it was her way of saying goodbye. She was retiring from her job — and she had always skipped the gym on the days she didn’t work because it was so far from her home in the boonies.
Would she continue coming to the gym once she no longer went on her way to work?
“It’s more fun to do it together — even if we aren’t really doing it together,” Connie had said about the Chill room. But it’s true of our time as workout partners, too.
A day in a workout
Most mornings we meet on the treadmills. We chat and walk, me at “tall” speed, Connie at “short” speed. We catch up on whatever happened the day(s) before. We field the attention of Russ and Mike and Bob and Larry, all at different intervals. It’s our social 10 minutes before we get serious about weight-lifting or aerobics.
Some days, I take a spinning class while she uses various aerobics machines. (I can’t convince her to do spinning.) Other days we lift weights — but not necessarily together.
In other words, we’re together at the beginning and the end in the locker room, but we often work out solo. And like the Chill room, workouts are more fun because of the connection.
I got to know Connie because of an afghan, actually. We had attended the same step aerobics class for years but were acquaintances, not friends. But that changed when I started getting ready for work at the gym. Connie introduced me to locker room life — and new friends — and then Aqua Zumba. And our friendship began.
I realize that beginning made no mention of an afghan. It’s coming, and it changed everything.
The afghan that sealed the deal
In 2013, my siblings and in-laws and I moved my mother into a memory care facility. She had Alzheimer’s disease and was not safe to live alone. After we moved her, we defrocked her home to prepare it as a rental — to help generate income to pay for this move to memory care.
Most of her belongings we gave away, but I kept one of her afghans, crocheted by my grandmother. It had begun to unravel, and I wasn’t sure what I should do with it. Using it would damage it more, and I knew of nowhere to get it fixed — if it could be fixed.
“Would anyone like to buy a scarf?” Connie said one Monday soon after I had taken the afghan from my mother’s. “I have these leftovers from the sale this weekend.”
The “leftovers” were beautiful scarves of varying materials and colors. I took her plastic shopping bag, explored its contents, and selected two or three of the scarves — to pay Connie $5 apiece. What a deal!
“Wait,” I said, realizing Connie may be a solution to my afghan quandary. “You knit? Do you do afghans? Could you repair one?”
She did. She does. She would.
And she did, captured in my only blog post that has won a contest and earned money ($50, which I never actually received, but the thought was nice). It was titled “Granny Squares and Gratefulness.” (Technically, Connie had to crochet rather than knit, but it’s all the same to me!)
The day she returned it to me, we spread it out and she challenged me to find the squares she fixed. She’d managed to match the ancient yarns and my grandmother’s pattern stitch for stitch.
And she knitted her heart to mine with that repair. Our workout friends have come and gone (and some have come to their senses and returned). Our routines have changed. We’ve adjusted to injury and aging. But Connie and I have remained steadfast in our commitment to health and fitness and to each other.
We’ve knitted our gym life together. (And Connie’s also made baby blankets for each of my grandbabies and countless scarves for me — and one mini afghan for my cat! I’ve woven this dear woman into my tales of life at the gym so often I could title a book of them The Connie Chronicles.)
For anyone who struggles with faithfulness to your own health and fitness, I’d recommend you find your own Connie. By being faithful to a workout friend, you’ll become more consistent in your workouts — and have more fun doing it.
I am forever grateful for my friend Connie, who has been an inspiration, an accountability partner at the gym, a bright spot in my day, and a willing subject of many blog posts (the only yarns I “knit”!).
And though she gifted me a beautiful afghan in December, it wasn’t a goodbye gift. Connie continues to get to the gym despite her retirement. The afghan was a symbol of a friendship — one that shares even the gifts I give to her — and I am thankful.
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