All i want for Christmas is you.

Other than getting married this year, the best thing that happened to me in 2005 was finding a friend at the gym. I have always been an exercise loner, earphones blaring, mirror staring, intense intent on outdoing yesterday's time/calories/weight/reps. I chose this solitary recreation not because i hate chatting with sweaty people, but simply because i never had a friend who could keep up with me. I have a two-hour gym minimum, and i come to WORK, not to walk on the treadmill for 15minutes then sit around the mat talking about Pilates. Dan is not any bit of a gym head, and my attempts to convert him to organized exercise have been less successful than his attempts to convert me to organized religion. I think he still hasn't forgiven me for that competitive rowing incident i sprung on him on our honeymoon. Sorry.

In November everything changed when i met Ashley. To describe Ashley as hot would be like describing the arctic as cold÷ UNDERSTATEMENT. She is so hard you need two syllables to say H-ARD. Her back is like an old He-Man doll, with muscles on top of muscles you thought couldn't sprout muscles. Her abs are so F-LAT you could play xydeco on them. I met Ashley in the [hot, steamy] locker room, and she immediately became my fitness idol. Did you see those abs??? Ripped like Jesus, as Jakey would say (hi jakey!) And if the mere physical results of sculpture-like perfection would not be enough to endear her to you, i'll tell you additionally that Her Tightness used to weigh over 200 pounds! She slimmed down through a diet of all tuna-fish and bear. Sigh, My Hero.

Ashley and i started working out together, and two-hour sessions turned into three-hour power-thons. I had finally met a work-out buddy who, as Dan put it, "makes me look normal." We started off competing with each other: we would make a date for 7pm, and then each of us would surreptitiously sneak in at 6:30 to get a little cardio lead time. ThatĖs before we learned we are both the definition of Hard Core when it comes to devoting time at the gym. Monday morning we did cardio, then abs, then took an hour long weight lifting class, and at the end we looked at each other and said, Good for more?

I wish Ashley could move into my house and make me do crunches while I watch CSI. Sadly, however, Ashley will be moving away in three days. She is getting out of this cold clime and moving to Arizona, where boys wrangle cows and are hopefully predominately heterosexual. Nothing has filled me with such a sense of loss since two months ago when Josh had dinner at our house and casually listed Kate as his first major girlfriend. [No just kidding, i'm f-ing over it JOSH!] Seriously, though, I am nothing short of devastated at AshleyĖs parting, and I have spent every free moment in this week-up-to-Christmas madness at the gym working out devilishly. As if quality sweating time will mean she wonĖt leave! Waaaah, donĖt leave me!!!!!!!! My poor supportive husband hasnĖt eaten dinner with me in over a week, and heĖs doing his buck-upest to be understanding. Good think AshleyĖs moving, he thinks, my puppy canĖt grow up without a mother!

I went to look for another buddy on exercisefriend.com, but when I found someone in my area who looked really hardcore and cool and my fitness level÷ it turned out is was Ashley! No, no one will ever take her place. Ashley, I secretly hope that you will miss me out there, and when your friends say after half a mile ĪitĖs to hooooot for runningĶ I hope you think of me.