Friday, September 21, 2001

Emotional Baggage finally unloaded.

I couldn't go to sleep last night. I thought about last Saturday when I visited the 2002 MHS football team and what I'd say to them if I had the opportunity. And in amending, modifying, reexamining and all otherwise giving myself a massive headache in formulating a fake speech, I finally ended with a highly unsatisfactory and teary-eyed discourse. As I mulled over what wisdom I could possibly share, September 24, 1999 never left my head. The memory of the final score of that game soon overwhelmed my efforts to construe some sort of speech and I started to cry, again.

I trained for months, learning plays, kicking field goals, punting, and trying to snag every throw within my reach. I put my heart and soul into every practice, so that I'd be ready for that one game. As an athlete, you dream of being the one to make that winning goal or touch down for your team because you have the willpower and skill to do the job right. I had the heart and the distance but when it came down to do or die, I choked.

The game went into sudden death. Placed on the 10-yard line, both teams had the opportunity to move the football into the end zone. Our offense was up first. We tried, rather viciously, to get passed Regina's defense but our efforts failed and we were pushed back to the 15 and on the right hash mark. We set up for a field goal attempt and I asked my holder to position the ball back and tilted slightly to the left. I sucked in a breath of air, looked up at the American flag blowing in the wind, exhaled and wound up for the shot. On my line up, just before the kick, my soccer instincts shot through my head and I nailed the junior sized football like a soccer ball. As it floated over the defense and under the uprights, my stomach dropped. I ran back to the sidelines and gripped my punting coach. In a hug, he turned me parallel to the sidelines but I could still see our fate. Regina's attempt to get to the goal line failed miserably so they as well, lined up for the field goal. She made the shot and ended the game. I dropped to my knees and with head in hands, burst into tears. I will never forget that moment.

It may seem like this is nothing to stress over, but if you only knew what happened that day you'd understand the depths from which I'm speaking. After shedding many tears last night, I thought about other times. Like my 18th birthday; I came home after soccer practice to find an empty house and half-eaten, left over, frozen lasagna. Or my 19th birthday when I had a phenomenal time in Florida over spring break with my grandparents, but when I came back to school, no one had remembered I even had a birthday. I thought about all the times I've tried to set up surprises for friends on their birthday and wished maybe one day someone would even remember mine. I thought about old relationships and how I might just be one of those people who are afraid of commitment. After all of this and more, I broke down. Then as time passed, I eventually fell asleep around 5am.

I woke up this morning in a better attitude. I gathered the courage to make the effort to go home this weekend and I fully intend to step on that Notre Dame High School football field after two years, and watch my high school win. It's a gynormus step, but I can do it. As for the rest of my memories, screw 'em, they're not worth a second thought.

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