As the credits played at the conclusion of Inside Out, I reached across my armrest, took Ashley’s hand, and burst into tears. I had been warned from none other than The New York Times of the high probability of adult crying and that the provocation for this emotion would likely be a reconciliation between Joy and Sadness. But unlike those who screened the film as parents, I had spent the last two hours alongside a person whose value and delight in my life was inversely related to the amount of romantic misfortune we had both encountered. I squeezed her hand and let a couple tears drop before we started giggling.
My friendship with Ashley offers me a diary which talks back. It exists as a laboratory in which to develop theories and identify patterns of young female adulthood and use our own flirty text message exchanges, online dates, and DTR (Define the Relationship) conversations as data. Much of the analysis exists in weekday GChat windows and the sweat of antiquated t-shirts earned through double digit mile runs. Occasionally, it can be found in the sticky syrup still fixed to the wrappers of fruity Mexican ice cream popsicles we stick into trash compactors.
Running the gridlines of Chicago and the Minneapolis half-marathon may be the easiest obstacle we collectively have encountered all year. The predictability of running juxtaposed against the tumultuous relational life in which we have both found ourselves mired suggests that our easy exercise success has emboldened us elsewhere. So we move on to master the game of male attention—power-infusing, ego-debilitating, relentlessly intoxicating—relieved and (beyond) thrilled for a close friend in which to revel in it all.