Stories for Lent: #40 The arms of my friends

Lastly, I want to talk about a time when I flew.

It was one of the last Jitsu sessions I had in Bath. I would see some people separately over summer, but I was leaving the very next day, and I wouldn’t be coming back to the university. It was goodbye. For the first time, I raised my hand at the end of the session – time for announcements – and I said, in the middle of an awkward silence, “It’s my last session everyone, so… pleasure to train with you, and the first round’s on me tonight.”

Sensei gave me a dirty look, like I’d done something really annoying, and ordered everyone to stand up and form a circle around me. We were running late, and Tae Kwon Do were waiting to take over. He ordered me to punch my way up the grades – from the novices upward – and told them to give me their best throw.

For those of you not doing Jitsu, it probably seems a strange thing. Heck, for anybody not doing sports, this probably seems a strange thing. But as I punched and got thrown, one way then another, a feeling of happiness started bubbling up in my chest.

“Come on then,” I said, laughing, when one of my friends didn’t quite get the throw, “Show me what you got.”

I punched and I got thrown. Halfway through, (I was running, rushing, because we were really late) I started to laugh. I was landing on the floor and it should have knocked the air out of me, but I didn’t stop laughing. I don’t think I’d felt such joy in a long time. By the time sensei put me in a headlock and ended the exercise, and sent us all back in our line, I had such a shit-eating grin on, I could have frightened anybody.

I hadn’t expected a send-off. I’d been in that club for two years, and I just wanted to do something nice for them. I wasn’t about to make a show of leaving. I wasn’t even close with everybody – most, I called my friends, but I hadn’t had confidants since my bestie had graduated the summer before. I thought it was just another goodbye.

But they made me feel happy. For that time, that one minute (or more, time tends to stop when I’m having fun), in the arms of my friends, I flew.

For that moment, I was invincible.

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