We've Come a Long Long Way Together

(song: Praise You/artist: Fat Boy Slim)

In 1996,  I was 22 years old when I got my first job as a waitress in New York City. I became fast friends with the hilariously funny and bubbly bartender, Stephen. One of the first real friendships I had as a New York City newbie, Stephen looked out for me. He was sort of a surrogate big brother to me. At work he would help me when I got slammed and became too frazzled to maintain my composure while I was frothing cappuccinos in the waiter's station.  He patiently comforted me and listened to me cry for weeks when I got my heart broken by the doofus I believed with all my heart was "the one". (He recently said, "God, I wanted to slap the shit out you". And he probably should've.) And he was the first friend to meet the man who would become my husband. The actual one.

Stephen and I had a lot in common. We both loved Barbies and BOOZE! The love of booze wasn't at all uncommon in the restaurant industry. If you didn't drink and/or "party"...well, you probably didn't work in a restaurant. Stephen and I spent more than a few nights at after-hours bars with our fellow restaurant compatriots. These nights usually resulted in some sort of "it's funny because we're drunk" shenanigans. Like the night I pushed Stephen around the block in a shopping cart while he held a trash-picked 16X20  poster of Jesus and bellowed, "Praise Jesus!"  It was well after 2AM. Yeah, we did stupid stuff...a lot. 

1998 - My 23rd birthday. Bloated Boozers.
In January 2001, I moved in with my boyfriend, and Stephen moved into my old place. It was the last year I saw him. Nothing happened -- we still kept in touch via occasional phone calls -- but we were living different lives, on very different schedules. I got engaged, then married and eventually moved with my husband to Brooklyn. Stephen moved to Florida for some much needed rest, relaxation...and rehab. By the time he moved back to New York in 2007, I was an obese pregnant housewife. Stephen was sober, working and living in Brooklyn, and had become very fit. It was wonderful to know he was doing so well, and frankly, that he was alive!

When I got into the Brazil Butt Lift test group in 2011, I talked to Stephen all the time about my life as a gym rat. He was so excited for me as I grew to love becoming fit. Then, I got him into a test group for Focus T25 and our friendship was reborn! We talked and texted about all things related to fitness and nutrition, and supported one another on our journeys to a healthy and fit lifestyle. On our may daily phone calls, we would laugh at how bizarre it was to be having a conversation about the best way to sooth post-workout leg cramps, instead of post-bender headaches.

In October of 2012, we both registered for the Rock-n-Roll 10K. As I was running, I remembered all the times we spent together during our bar-hopping days, and reflected on how profoundly different our lives had become. I was so excited to be reuniting with him at an event that was the polar opposite of anything we had done in the past.  As I crossed the finish line, I saw Stephen's gorgeous smile for the first time in over 10 years. I ran right into his incredibly toned arms and we started laughing and talking like no time had passed at all. 

2012 - Sober Sidekicks.
Since last year's reunion, we've run in three of the same races, including the Brooklyn Half Marathon, which Stephen convinced me to do. He's trying to talk me into to doing a Spartan Race, but I'm not quite ready for obstacles of fire and/or electricity...

When you drastically change your lifestyle, you tend to change your friends as well. I love that Stephen and I have a history which we can laugh about, but not be at all nostalgic for. Instead of pining for the days of watching the sunrise as we crawled out of our favorite bar in the subway, we're excited about meeting up at the next race expo. I don't think anyone that knew us then, would have predicted that either of us would go this direction. Thank goodness for plot twists!

Stephen, I'm so proud of you, and I love that our story gets another chapter!
We lost our bloat, not our sense of humor!