I plan on getting sober by living my rowdy life one breath at a time. One long deep breath at a time really is the only way I know how to start my day off. I usually wake up around 7:30 A.M. and start with a deep breath to take the morning edge off. Then I eat some cereal with orange juice as I check the news to see what insanity might have occurred while I slept. As the time rounds 8:30 A.M., I get dressed for my days activities; a suit for work, a pair of mesh shorts for the gym, or nothing if it is my day off. Now replenished and hopefully dressed I am ready to take on the world as I take one last deep breath on my way out of my front door for my morning run.
Not even two steps from my house and I am already faced with something I have never encountered before. It’s this neighborhood boy around the age of 19 that tells me that he had been watching me run every day at this hour for the last three months. I take a step back from the boy and ask if he is some sort of stalker as I begin uncovering this young boy’s intentions. The boy looks at me with sunken eyes and explains that he lives across the street with his mother and two sisters. I have been in some rowdy situations before but somehow this simple encounter with this young boy bewildered me.
Now tired of playing detective with the neighborhood boy’s motivation for approaching me, I bluntly ask “is there any particular reason you have stopped me this morning or are you just trying to be weird?” The boy’s face turns pail and he begins to run off, now that I successfully proven myself to be a total jerk I start to run after the young boy. After warming up with a little jog behind the boys trail, I quickly catch up alongside him. I did not say anything at first but I notice that he actually had decent running form. So I asked him, “Have you ever done track before?” The boy stopped dead in his steps, tears running down his face. He looks at me with only the words “I wish” being able to escape from under his breath. Intrigued by his odd passion for running, I began explaining that if the reason he came to my front door this morning was to learn how to run then he should have just asked me.
With his face drenched with sorrow, it did not take a genius to figure out that he was a shy kid. I could tell that he was stronger than his tears as I handed him a towel to dry his eyes. Now that we were past the introductions the young boy told me how he wished to become an elite runner. I smiled at his determination and told the boy to come by my house tomorrow morning same time but this time to come with his running gear on.
For the next six months this random neighborhood kid and I grew very close as running partners. So much so that one day he decided to ask if I would like to meet his mother. I laughed as I told him I don’t do blind dates with my friend’s mothers. With his laughter now growing stronger than mine he wittingly said, “No goofball I am just saying that if we plan to continue running together. Then it is probably a good idea for her to know you.” Swayed by his compelling argument I set the date for dinner at his house tonight around 6:00. This all seemed fine at first but little did I know I was about to find out that I was in store for much more than just having a nice meal with his mother and two sisters.
I arrived a few minutes after six o’clock and was greeted by the whole family with smiles before I could even make it to their door. The meal was exquisite, so naturally I thanked his mother for preparing such a delight. At this point we were only 15 minutes into the dinner before his mother started to cry out of nowhere. Remembering that her son was also a bit sensitive I decided to comfort her tears. As I got down on a knee to better hear her she grab my hand a said, “Thank you for saving my baby.” As I wiped the tears from her cheeks I asked my young friend what she was talking about. There was no response to my question, so I turned around to face him only to see that he was standing tall holding a bright blue coin. Being an addict, I knew the coin he was holding was actually a six month AA token but he had no idea about my own battles with addictions. I rose from my knee and picked him clean off the ground with a huge hug only before tearing up myself. After emotions settled, my young friend and I shared our stories of addictions on the front porch swing. I had no clue that this neighborhood kid would become such a huge part of my life and vice versa.
I have to admit that teaching that kid to run felt great, but to be told that teaching him something so simple actually saved him from a life of addiction is a whole other feeling. It made me feel responsible for him in a good way, almost like we knew that us meeting was fate. To this day we continue to run together every morning. He has actually gotten quite good since I had first started with him. In fact, we are now planning his first half marathon that we will be running together three months from next week. It’s true; you really never know who you are going to leave an impression on.