This is an image I see less frequently now that I am a mother of two and no longer put in the grueling hours of training I once did. Now that my sole focus in life has shifted away from simply moving a boat as fast I possibly could. Now that I’ve achieved a modicum of balance and discovered that stepping away from the competitive arena of rowing doesn’t mean having to leave it behind forever. But this image is one that will stay with me, hopefully, even when most other details in life fall out of focus. Rowing has brought me the dearest of friends. The kind of people that became like family (or in my case, that became my husband, even after I hit him in the head with my boat). The friends that, a decade after college graduation, still keep in touch. The friends that, when I moved to a new country, welcomed me completely, made fun of my accent, and were my compass when I needed one most. The friends that, despite our having to compete against one another on a daily basis, would be there to hold open the church doors at my wedding and to hold my hand when I needed strength deeper than my own. The ones I cheer for as they finish their PhDs, receive promotions, as they say “I do,” as they drop off their dogs at my house on their way to the delivery room. The ones I hold tight when they suffer the most unimaginable loss. The ones that I hope to have in my life for decades to come. This photograph is our collective story: just a moment to rest and take in the view, together, before setting off once again.

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