Nick and I are less different than we are alike. The manner in which he sings along to country music is done so well enough that it isn’t bothersome. He lives by the words of Jesus. My proclivities err more towards gangster rap and the excogitations of Huang Po.
In our line of work, we call that constant variance.
We weren’t friends before this business venture. As much as I dislike words that end in -ly, I’d say we were friendly. He’d been on an episode of my now dormant podcast, and we’d had coffee once. Nick is kind, you see. And kindness is my religion. So our conversations are easy.
Something I say again and again is that if it weren’t for Nick, I don’t have any clue what I’d be doing right now. My long running joke when someone asks me how I’d make a living if I weren’t coaching CrossFit (or now co-owning an Affiliate) is to tell them “Crime.” The reality of it is that I can’t know if a passion to curate a new career path at 35 years old is within me. My instinct would push me towards maritime security, sitting alongside a machine gun perched on sandbags, waiting to become the fan blade in the old shit proverb. Same old, same old.
These avenues arose in my thoughts before that fateful day when via Instagram I received a DM (where it goes down, I’m told) that read, “You doing okay?” As I said, Nick is kind.
My opportunity in the Land of 10,000 Lakes had evaporated with Governor Walz declaring a lockdown, as necessary as it was, it shattered my hope in the moment. All that life entailed had been uprooted and moved to Minneapolis. The family that owned the box I was coaching at felt like long lost cousins. Members showered me with affection in direct contrast to the reputation of passive aggressiveness that habitants of the North Star state are known for.
You see I’d moved to the upper Midwest to be reborn. The five previous years I’d been Head Coach at a CrossFit facility in a blue-collar burg East of Kansas City. A job most would consider a dream opportunity from the outside looking in. Among the monikers the aforementioned box earned amongst the local athletes was the “Taj Mahal.” A fitting appellation considering the upscale fashion of which the facility was outfitted. Westerners may not be aware, but the Taj Mahal is in fact a tomb.
As I said, I was looking to be reborn.
What Nick and I talked about over coffee that first time I cannot tell you. Not that I’ve forgotten, I’m choosing not to say.
On the drive from there to here, a storm front sat on the Western skyline. All my technology told me an onslaught was imminent; a tornado of ice and wind unafraid to batter the man-made thoroughfare like a rodeo bull encountering a child’s popsicle architecture.
I texted Nick, “I need you to call in a favor. All my possessions are in the bed of a truck I’m tailing and the forecast says doom.”
He laughed at me a bit, knowing I know that’s not how prayer works. But as I said, Nick is kind, so he said one for my barbell, the paintings I possess, and my collection of literature.
There have never been clearer skies in Iowa.