I remember her, it was friendship at first sight. I watched her crush over 300 pounds for a deadlift. I analyzed every movement of that deadlift, wishing to pull as much weight as she could, with such poise, strength, and control. Her beach blonde hair was riddled with sweat and her hands dusted with chalk.
It was the first time I had ever seen a woman lift that much weight -- or anyone for that matter. And when she congratulated me for pulling my first deadlift ever -- 135-pounder, I felt a bit wobbly. A girl who lifted twice my bodyweight, was congratulating ME for pulling less than half of what she did.
That day, our friendship began.
Through her, I was introduced to the world of powerlifting, bodybuilding, fitness, and health. She was a competitive bodybuilder -- I started dipping my callused fingers into powerlifting. Our friendship was built around our passion for strength.
We sprinted together, spotted each other at the gym, we talked about boys. We were the girly-girls who glided through the gym with our neatly tucked pony-tails, eyeliner, and beautifully manicured nails. We'd pass the cardio machines, the yoga room, and surprise everyone by wrapping our pink lifting belts around our tiny waists and lift more than some men in that room could.
We also had our "wig parties" and we'd go out to the bars, fashioning ourselves with different hair to feel like different people for just one night.
Our friendship wasn't enclosed by the four walls of the gym. I soon realized that she was every bit human as I was. I don't know why it even took me so long to really realize that. When first started hitting the gym, I began to idolize fitness models and female bodybuilders. I somehow equated a beautiful body with a flawless life.
But after time, you realize the world of fitness can be choked with eating disorders, depressions, stress, body dysmorphia, disappointment, and just everyday personal bullshit. It's not exactly all rainbows and creatine.
We were there for each other when we were tangled in our own personal hells. I could say she knew the darkest part of me, and she was there to make sure I was okay. She was the first friend who I actually opened up to, and the first friend who actually understood my hell. And I understood hers.
But after the mountain of pain and torment became too heavy for her to carry -- even as a bodybuilder, I saw less and less of her. I'd call her, text her, even try to catch her at the gym at the same time we'd used to go, but she was disappearing. I couldn't quite catch her.
The last text message I had sent her was a few after months I was swallowed by my own ego. And I told myself to reach out to her one more time. Just one more time. And I did. But her response was cold, short, and distant. That was the last time I spoke to her.
The girl who I lifted with, cried with, got super drunk with. The girl who put up with my bullshit. The girl who I spent more time with than I did with myself. The girl who I squealed with when we'd hit a personal record at the gym.
I don't know what happened to her. She disappeared. And I still think about her. And I wonder if she's alright.
The months after the silence, I was pissed. I was upset. But her and I turned into a memory that I will always remember and cherish.