Yesterday I made a new best friend. Her name is Kate Walker. She is a national and international award-winning power lifter and an optimistic and vivacious individual. She’s 63 years old. And we are so much alike.
I interviewed Kate yesterday for a Vox story I am writing about a Columbia-based program called Older Women On Weights, or OWOW. Kate has been competitively powerlifting for six years. She was a dancer through high school and college, graduating from Stephens College’s dancing program. After dancing took a toll on her body, she became less active, but not for long. After taking up weight training to gain back her physical strength, Kate began to compete in powerlifting competitions and has won in her age and weight class at international competitions. As we talk, she tells me she’s even been featured in Sports Illustrated. I remain professional and thoroughly interested throughout the interview until we are finished with the preliminary questions and I start hearing Kate describe my personality as she tells me about herself.
To clarify, being a buff weight lifter is not the charactersitc that Kate and I have in common. I’m lucky if I can add weight to a 45-pound bar. The human things, the way we seem to work in this world, though, are almost identical.
As Kate talked about competition, she told me how much she enjoys lifting by herself because at times, she just likes her space.
“Don’t get me wrong, I like people,” she says. “Sometimes, though, I just can’t do it.” At this point, I start nodding fervently.
“I’m just an intense person,” she tells me.
This is where I can’t hold it in. I tell her all about how my friends and family have always identified me with that same word. Kate tells me that she can tell I’ve used that energy toward good things and not to worry. She says she’s learned to do this in her life by encouraging and motivating those around her through her own drive for success. She tells me that she uses that drive in the weight room, and likes to work out alone in silence, where she feels she knows herself best. I tell her that’s why I run, to know myself better in those precious minutes of solitude.
We talk about lighter things, like our quirks and naturally ungraceful walking habits. We joke about always finding the nearest hole to fall in or light pole to walk into. I tell her that my roommates have christened my regular stumbles as “Total Hilary Moves,” better known as “THMs.” She laughs out loud and nods, obviously empathetic.
After the interview, which quickly turned into quite the conversation, Kate tells me she would love to “go on a walk sometime” and tells me to keep her posted on my marathon training, which somehow slipped into our conversation as well.
I tell her this was one of the most rewarding interviews I’ve ever had. Not only did our fast friendship lead to detailed questions and answers for my story, but I’ve learned more about myself than I have in a while. It’s amazing how many personal gains can be made from a single conversation. Getting to know Kate was like meeting my 63-year-old self. And, it is clear that, by looking at all of Kate’s accomplishments, I will turn out just fine. I will probably never compete as an internationally recognized weight lifter, but I will be a fully functioning, poised adult someday. This is good to know.
Here’s to great sources, insightful interviews and new friends with similar souls.