Vignettes of a Friendship is Part 3 of the Friendings Series. These vignettes are presented individually here, but belong to the greater whole.
In Upstate, New York, spring is a bit of a tease. She’s alluring with her smells and invitations to strip layers, but often flighty and fleeting—ready to embrace you one minute and giving you the cold shoulder the next. We’ve had surprise snow storms in mid-April before. And by May, everyone is pleading with spring not to abandon us again.
The second weekend in May was always the Cystic Fibrosis walk, and it was always a celebration of not just fighting for a cause, but the chance to be outside in slightly warmer weather. And it was one of our absolute favorite pastimes.
Every muddy May, we would gather at the Parkway Rec Center, which sat at the bottom of a modest ski slope. Eagerness got even the most habitually tardy (Michelle and me) there early. Before the festivities would officially begin, we would trudge our way through the overgrown grass up the ski hill. We were so happy to be making our way up the hill together that we hardly heard our toes complaining about the moisture seeping through our sneakers and into our socks.
Out of breath from both the climb and the laughter, we’d pause to look with pride down the long, uneven ground we had just scaled, as if it were a mountain that took real perseverance to ascend.
Sometimes someone counted to three; sometimes someone would just take off (me) and the rest would follow. We’d sprint down that hill as fast as the divots and unexpected bumps would let us, until—inevitably—the muddiness of spring would win out, and we’d find ourselves slipping and, if we were lucky, tumbling into a sideways roll that would take us the rest of the way down. If unlucky, we’d find ourselves face planting then inelegantly sliding over small rocks and clumps of plantlife, slightly panic-stricken and at the mercy of the slope.
I can hardly remember a year someone didn’t end up with major bruises or burn marks on some part of their body, or a year we didn’t all start the walk covered in dirt stains. We revelled in walking by the news crews sporting our mud smears as if it were war paint.