I met Tessa through a running group in DC in Spring 2021. It was either the first or second run when she looked at me and said some version of: I think you and I should be friends. It reminded me of kindergartners, in a way, the bluntness of the friendship offer. I said ok, yes!
We started running together after work once or twice a week that spring. When we ran, we talked about work and our families and friends and the parts of life that are both routine and exciting. Tessa was deciding between law schools to start in the fall (she wanted to be near her older brother and “very cool” sister-in-law). Her sister was getting engaged. Sometimes we would eat an acai bowl for dinner after the run.
I saw someone else post about how Tessa would make up funny words and phrases. She also taught me the word “bupdate” [boy update], which, if that isn’t hilarious enough, was compounded by a whole suite of other words used for updating one another, including “wupdate” [work update] and “frupdate” [friend update].
Another one I’ve adopted into my every day life: Tessa told me that since she’d been through a few serious and difficult things in life, she was only interested in being good friends with a person if they could track with her into deep and/or emotional territory. “If someone is only able to have surface-level conversations or emotions, I’m not interested.” She called these people “lightweights” and the more serious people “heavyweights”. As far as dating, she was, “Heavyweights only”. It is hilarious and simultaneously profound.
I will not publicly disclose all of Tessa and I’s bupdates that we shared that year, but I will say that we made each other laugh a lot while running. Once, we were running up the hill from the National Mall, on 17th street by the White House, and really out of breath from the combination of the hill and the giggling. We were totally engrossed in our conversation, and hardly noticed when a police officer stopped us from crossing the street. We were laughing so hard – I have no idea at what – but I remember having to holding our sweaty knees and lean on each other to keep upright. All of the sudden the presidential motorcade roared out of the west wing of the White House right in front of us. There weren’t many people around, just us two girls buckled over laughing.
I imagine most people are trying to look at the President when he goes by, but in this case I hope the President was looking at us. We were a happy sight.
Tessa moved for law school that summer. (I remember her older brother flew from Los Angeles to attend her “leaving DC” party – whose older brother is that sweet?!) Tessa and I only knew each other for a few months that spring, but we had become fast friends. She assigned me as her friend at the start and I was happy to comply. Honored to be considered a heavyweight.
She knew a better way to live than most people. She was able to channel some otherworldly perspective where every day was the best day we’d ever have. One time we both showed up to a run wearing orange shorts and black shirts and she cheered as if we had won the lottery, insisted we take a selfie. That kind of enthusiasm and joy is the correct way to live.
Of course it was all too short, but I can’t help but think how lucky her family and friends are to have gotten her. We have gotten to live a better, happier, and more heavyweight life because of her leadership. I’m so thankful to have been included in a small part of her life.
Our running group disbanded a while ago, but we are going to get together on September 9 and do a run in her honor. We’ll talk and think of her and celebrate life the whole time.