Home > Childhood, conversations, Family, Friends, Judo, Life > Birds of a feather.

Birds of a feather.

Right now, I’m visiting an old friend who actually feels like a new friend in a lot of ways. Kristin and I first met when she was about 4 or 5, and I was maybe 7 or 8. Her dad was my first judo coach, and our families became friends. Our dads even work together now. Anyway, as far as little kids go, I remember Kristin and I being very shy, very quiet and very serious. That’s probably why we got along so well. We spent several years with my brother, her little sister, and all the other judo kids running around empty parking lots, terrorizing caterpillars and playing in traffic while our parents went through the adult class after us kids were done. Sometimes we all went out for pizza afterwords and us kids drank pitchers of caffeinated soda at 10 at night, spilling plenty to both embarrass our parents  and pose a nuisance for a weary wait-staff to clean up in our wake.

It was awesome.

Of course, I ended up quitting, and while Kristin stuck it out a little longer than I did, she ended up quitting,too. We didn’t go to the same schools and I left the Philadelphia area for college. After she finished her undergrad, Kristin took a job in Rhode Island. She and I didn’t really see each other for over a decade. Kristin became one of the many people my dad would mention in passing with little updates that I would file away, but not think about too much.

And just as we both quit, Kristin and I both found ourselves back in judo. My fuzzy memory indicates that Kristin and I reconnected at funerals for each other’s families, but I think what really got us talking again was judo. Kristin started back up before I did, and I think had nervous questions to ask her, which she graciously answered. Maybe about two years ago, she was home visiting her family during Christmas and we met up for lunch. It was not weird at all and also very weird. Not weird because we both felt comfortable around each other due to our families’ history, but I kept thinking how weird it was to be getting along with someone so well that I hadn’t really spent any time with since I was nine or ten. Sure, we talked a little about judo, but also about relationships, our families, school, careers, music, and a bunch of other stuff. We wouldn’t have these conversations as nine and six year-olds, so it was kind of amazing to see that we got excited about the same things, could relate to each other, and that we simply still clicked.

This visit has been pretty fantastic. It’s a unique thing to know someone as a child and then see how you both grow up. I think Kristin and I are significantly less shy and quiet than we used to be, but we still share a common sense of focus and drive when it comes our careers and our training. It’s just been cool to reminisce while learning new things about her, like what her life is like up in Rhode Island, how much she loves books, and how for someone who claims not to know how to cook,  has an incredibly well stocked kitchen.

Also, it’s been really great to have another girl to talk about judo with. My assistant coach is a woman and we’ve had a few intense conversations lately about judo that have been really good for me. Talking with Kristin has been really helpful because she’s significantly more experienced with judo and been back on the mat longer than I have. She can offer me a lot of insight into some of the things I struggle with since she’s struggled with them herself.  I think for all judoka, your commitment to the practice can become intensely personal and grueling, but I do think for women there’s a singular component of adjusting to the reactions of other people, men especially, when they learn that you train for a grappling sport. I’m sure guys who practice judo and BJJ hear plenty of weird comments and questions, but I think a lot of people don’t know what to make of a girl who likes to fight.  Kristin is the perfect person to hash out the ups and downs of judo since she’s extremely logical while remaining incredibly empathetic. And we do share the common experience of having wonderfully blunt fathers who give us the courtesy of not holding back while critiquing our technique. Lucky us, right?

I think what I like about my friendship with Kristin is that it’s not easily definable. Is she a childhood friend? Is she a judo friend? Well, she’s both those things. But during this visit I’ve discovered that we have similar senses of humor, listen to a lot of the same music and have read the same books, like the same kinds of people, and face the same challenges, like hanging up our clothes. The more time I spend with Kristin, the more I admire her and am inspired by her.

Truthfully, I don’t really know how to conclude this post; I’m simply sitting in a coffee shop in Providence, Rhode Island, marveling once again over the incredible people in my life.



  1. kristin
    July 18, 2011 at 16:30

    i am pretty sure that i am tearing up at work….mainly because your writing skills were able to accurately pinpoint exactly how i feel as well. i am beyond happy that you were able to come up to visit and that we have been able to bond or I guess, re-bond, so naturally. you are incredibly awesome and are a role model to me in many ways as well – i am very lucky to have you as a friend.
    i guess our friendship is just another thing that we have to thank silly judo for <3.

  2. July 18, 2011 at 16:49

    Kristin, if you start to cry, then I’ll start to cry and we’ll smash the illusion that we’re all tuff n stuff!

  3. July 20, 2011 at 13:09

    It’s so great to have a friend like this. I am finding that my childhood (well, really, high school) friends and I are growing in different directions, and it’s really hard to not have as much in common with my BFFs anymore. You know what, though? There are some folks that I haven’t talked to in awhile…I’m going to reach out to them!

  4. July 20, 2011 at 21:23

    Do it! Even if you don’t stay in touch, I always think it’s pretty interesting to see how your old friends change and what things about them stay the same. It’s pretty neat.

  5. September 1, 2012 at 18:11

    Still a great post the second time around.

  1. February 19, 2012 at 17:11
  2. September 17, 2012 at 22:18

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: