I break the first rule of Fight Club. I talk about it a lot.

I’ve been doing martial arts for about 12 years. I started when I was 16 by joining a very informal daito ryru class that my friends went to. Over the next 2 years, and then through college I became very close with the class and with my instructors, who also happened to be parents of friends of mine. They’re family. Many of the blackbelts have a tattoo of a tiger somewhere on their left arm/shoulder. When I finally get my blackbelt, I will also get that tattoo.

I didn’t get to do much martial arts in college, and none in graduate school. After grad school I joined Meetup.com and found the a martial arts meetup group, which happened to meet near my house. That was in June of 2007. This is a very loose class, and we train in whatever we feel like, jujitsu, boxing, krav maga, grappling, this insane Vietnamese style that’s all elbows and knees, whatever.  I became friends with B and E, two of the founders. Both were late 30s and married. E runs a nonprofit self-defense program which is amazing, and that I’ll talk about more at a later date. At first I was more E’s friend and he wanted my feedback and help on the self defense stuff, but as time went on B and I became close. I had just gotten out of an awful relationship, and he got me, like really understood where I was coming from. I told him some of my history, why I wanted to be part of the self-defense stuff, everything. Emailing with him got me through a really, really tough time in my life. I didn’t spend as much time with him outside class as I would have liked, because I was afraid of stepping on his wife’s toes (I had had a huge crush on him before I found out he was married. He knows this. And his wife is made of awesome. ) I basically became like the class’ little sister. I was the youngest and the only girl. I made a couple of other friends in the group, and then we sort of lost momentum, people stopped showing up and we disbanded for a while.

Fast forward 2.5 years, and we decide to get the band back together. We started a weekly meetup instead of monthly, and got a bunch of people to join up. New transplants to Boston, and people who hadn’t been on meetup before. Sometimes we work on actual learning to fight, sometimes we stand around and talk about everything from politics to families, to book and movie recommendations. There quickly became a core group of about 6 of us, B, E, J (a return from the old group and a very good friend of mine) X and Bsquared. Two of the new guys routinely take pleasure in busting on me. A memorable moment was when I was trying to explain that I know far too many people named John/Jon and I blurted out that “I have too many John’s in my life.” Which promptly resulted in X mocking the ever loving hell out of me. He met The Boy two weeks ago and asked him how someone so great as him (The Boy) would date someone like me. I almost hit him, which is par for the course with us.

I have discovered with this amazing group of men, friendships that will last for years. And they really do not want me to leave.  Every time I mentioned that I had a job interview they all threatened to sabotage it, or sabotage my relationship with The Boy, because it would mean that I was leaving them.  They told me I would have to find another girl to replace me before I left. And then J said that they “broke the mold with” me. I have never had people want me around that badly. I have never felt more loved and supported by a group of people outside my family than my boys at fight club. Every time I think about leaving them I start to cry. I talk more in therapy about saying goodbye to them than about terminating with my therapist.  I worry that I will never find a comparable group of people to spend time with in New York.

B surprised me with a cake and a card signed by the guys tonight at class and I promptly burst into tears. X took a picture of me teary, holding my card and flipping him off. Going to class next week, and then going home is going to be one of the hardest things I have to do about this whole process, and I really, really don’t want to do it.

So if you guys are reading this, I hope you know how important you are to me. You have taught me so much.  I will definitely come back, and if I can’t make class, at least for drinks. I love you guys.