Today, when you said that to me, I sort of felt like I loved you. Just a little. In a very platonic way.
But when we both went for that same treadmill -- THE treadmill because it's next to the window and you only have to share your space with one other person -- you smiled at me and didn't even look annoyed. No, you had none of that I'll-kill-you-if-you-take-the-machine-I've-been-waiting-20-minutes-for look that fills so many eyes at our gym. At every gym.
Instead, you smiled and said, "Whatever you want, you can have."
But I didn't need that treadmill, and you'd been so nice to me (I loved you right away, remember?), that I let you have THE treadmill. And I didn't even mind being on the one next to it, the one without the little TV mounted on top. I didn't mind at all.
Because then you told me I looked cute. So cute, you said. And you stared at my bulging belly while you said it. And you smiled at me and at my belly bulging with baby girl.
A few other strangers have told me I look cute lately -- the girl at Rye's haircut place on Saturday, for example -- but none have said it as genuinely as you.
As we took our places on the treadmills, I thanked you and told you I appreciated that because I feel like everyone just stares at me. Like I'm a freak woman with a monster in her abdomen (yes, I might choose the noun "monster" as well when a. I can't get the child out or b. I can't get the child to please, please just sleep. For now, however, it is a sweet little girl that is yes, pushing my tummy into its own orbit. Still, monster she is not). "Noooo," you so nicely dismissed my paranoia, "You don't see many pregnant women here working out. You look great."
And then you told me it's your 30th birthday today. You don't have any children but worry that if and when you do, you'll be too tired to show up at the gym. You smiled, sort of apologetically.
You will, I said. You'll do just fine.
And then we put our earphones back on and punched those treadmill buttons and that was it. I noticed we were running the same speed.
I wanted to ask you what it was like to turn 30. And I wondered why you were at the gym on your birthday. But I didn't.
Maybe I'll see you again, though, birthday girl at the gym. I sort of hope I do.
But if I don't, thanks.