Glory Days on a Court
Have you ever had a moment bring you so vividly back in time you could almost taste the experience once again? As a point guard on the varsity basketball team for her high school, my niece began her final season as a senior last night with a victory over a fierce rival. As I took my seat in the front row of the bleachers, I could feel the dribble of the ball reverberate off the hardwood floor of the court. The pace of the excitement, the rhythm of the plays, and energy these 17 year old girls exerted carried me right back to my youth as if I traveled in a time machine. It was like 1985 all over again.
When I was a kid, I was a total jock. I was one of those kids who wanted to try everything. And thankfully, my parents rarely denied me any of those youthful indulgences. As for extracurricular activities, things were much less complicated then, so it wasn’t that much of a loss when I signed up for Brownies, and decided after a few troup meetings and a round of cookie sales that it just wasn’t up my alley. I also did singing lessons, drama lessons and art lessons. Coming in right above the art lessons, my biggest passion was sports. I was on the track team, the cross country team, the softball team, the soccer team, and my all time favorite: the basketball team. I won trophies in all these sports; was voted MVP on both softball and basketball. It was truly my glory days. But then a funny thing happened around sophomore year when my father died unexpectedly. I suddenly started to care what boys thought of me, I started to smoke cigarettes in the girls bathroom at school, and by junior year I was most definitely drinking beer at more than one weekend party. Not to mention I was on a doctor’s couch ranting and raving about the injustices over losing my father at such a young age. When I was voted senior class president, it was a personal triumph for me considering my setbacks. But I always missed sports. I still can’t clearly remember the exact motives for dropping out. I had a confrontation with my last basketball coach in my sophomore year and developed a real attitude problem. I was very immature. And I suppose then with my father’s death, everything seemed to come down like a stack of dominoes. But the need for the thrill of competition that sports provided remained a void in my life that I began to fill with socializing and partying, smoking and drinking.
At last night’s game, I couldn’t help but feel a little bit of longing for the good ol’ days, with a crowd cheering for you as you steal the ball from your opponent and run down the court dribbling your heart away. There is nothing like that feeling. Nothing can compare to the thrill of victory in sports. I couldn’t help but feel a little old, a little out of shape and a little plump, when I watched the game last night. I wondered where all my sports enthusiasm had gone. The guy next to me actually asked me if I had a daughter out there playing. Hello? Excuse me? Do I look old enough to have a 17 year old? That didn’t help me feel any better.
As I was driving home last night with CJ in the backseat, we were both very quiet. Him from exhaustion over running around with a bunch of other kids, and me from contemplating my lost youth. I never used to be one of those people who wallowed in their grief at every birthday, but as I close in on my 36th birthday early next year, I can’t help but wonder where in the hell the time went. I look at my niece, and the expression on her face when they won the game literally glowed with excitement and joy. The other day she found out that she has been accepted into the college of her choice, so it’s smooth sailing for her in her senior year. I can’t help but be reminded of how much she has going for her and how much she has to look forward to. Her whole world is truly her oyster right now, and what a great place in life to be.