Monthly Archives: May 2006

Called

I finally got called.

I’ve been trying to hook up with a softball team here for the past few months.  I couldn’t really commit to the full season because, in the beginning, I didn’t have a car and there was the issue of an ID card that I couldn’t seem to figure out.  (What’s wrong with these strict Oregon leagues?)

Yesterday at work I got called.  Or rather; emailed.

The subject line read: “Short women – can you sub tonight?”

You bet your white ass I can.

I prepared myself to meet new people, stretch out my arms, track flies and launch scorching flat balls.  I was indescribably nervous driving on 26 West out to Beaverton for the late game.

Ah, to be the new kid again.

No one knows a thing about you.  You don’t know a thing about anyone else.  I was scared out of my freaking mind.  It struck me how, as adults, we don’t do these things as often.  We don’t place ourselves in new, challenging social situations until we’re forced to by a move or other fact of having to develop new social networks.

We did it all the time as kids but we’re ot as flexible as we age.

I promised myself that I’d be fine.  To relax.  To just roll with it.

And in the end?

Well, we got neatly crushed as I learned that I was subbing for a B team that had been pushed up into an A league against their will.  It was painful to take the beating and it was so bad that I only got up to bat twice (they buried me in the lineup as they were unfamiliar with my stick).  I split the night and came out at .500 with a sizzling rope down the left field line at my second at bat – I even managed to score one of the two points that we ended up with.

We must have lost by 16 at least.

Heh.

But that’s missing the point, isn’t it?

The point is that I played softball.  In Oregon.  And walking out into that massive complex was like coming home.  All variety of athletic, aggressive, competitive, super-skilled women milling around me, walking with intimidating shoulders, speaking in tongues that only the hardest of the hard core can hang with.

It made me miss Coach with a deep, hard ache.  It made me miss my girls even more.  My softball team in San Francisco had been a kind of family.  A group of people who knew an important part of me better than anyone else, who loved me in a different way than anyone else.  A place to be challenged, supported and rewarded.

The team I subbed for is a tight group.  By the end of the game they had warmed up to me and I was bantering back and forth with the best of them.  I dove for a low fly in right-center and came up empty but I have a nice scrape on my knee to prove that I was at least going to get an A for effort.

We drank beer afterward even though it was nearly 10:15pm when we finished.  Hefeweizen with lemons – softball beer.

They aren’t my old SF team and they never will be.  No one ever will be.  But they sprinkled me with softball love and welcomed me with open softball arms.

I felt an important part of me waking up.  I drove home and sipped Jack Daniels on the front porch, amazed at what the sport can do to me – how it can change me inside and remind me who I am and what I want.

I feel good.

Really good.

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Off the Radar

Yeah.  I’ve been off the radar for a bit.  Flying low.  Avoiding so much sonar.

Portland riding has me up, up, and up in a happy place.  But I’m dangerous like downtown traffic with ipod headphones cranked full-tilt.  Sammy tells me not to ride with the music in my ears but I can’t help it.  I feel emotional and wreckless.  I feel daring.

I’ll keep my helmet on – I promise – but I’m not getting rid of the headphones.

My mommy and daddy will come tomorrow with my sister’s children.  God knows what we’ll do besides yardwork (need a weed-whacker) and cooking (have kale, will steam).

I rode into the NE on Tuesday morning at 5:30am.  I did not realize that it was freezing.
(It feels like this is becoming a pattern.)

I was wearing Spring gloves (fingerless)
[This is the Entry De Parentheses in case you didn’t notice]

and my hands summarily went numb.  You think numb hands are bad when you are back-packing?  Try cycling.  Hands = brakes.  I was already over the top of Mt. Tabor before it struck me to turn around and go back for winter gloves.  By then I was able to convince myself that it was much more impressive to keep going, unfazed.

Except that I was fazed.

And my 20 mile loop abruptly turned into a 10 mile loop as I turned left on Tillamook, instead of right.

Home, home, home, home.  Have to get home.  Freezing.

I’ll admit. It’s nice to freeze and ride sometimes in the early hours of a Portland morning.  The coffee maker was still hot when I rolled in and I wrapped my hands around a ceramic mug and cringed as my fingers dethawed.  Slowly.

Getting up in the morning has become a kind of sport.

I have all manner of tricks employed for ensuring my prompt ejection from bed.  The coffee maker brews at 430am at which point I switch on the bed lamp and groan.  The cats begin to stir.

I try to convince myself it is too cold to get up, but I’ve strategically placed slippers and a sweater within arm’s reach, so the excuse loses validity in a glance.  Black coffee (black and hott) draws me out of bed… I stand in the kitchen sipping, like it is the only thing that will keep my alive.

The only promise that I make to myself is that I will put on my cycling shorts.  That’s the only promise.  I can put them on and then go back to bed, I can put them on and sit on the couch, I can put them on and then stand in the kitchen drinking black coffee.  I’m off the hook but for putting those things on.

And trust me, I have never put them on and done anything but ride.

It’s like there’s magic in the chamois.  Magic motivation.  Head-clarifying chamois-inspired motivation.

It feels strange to write here.
Hard.
And strange.

I don’t feel like myself and then every once in a while I do.

It’s a strange time.
So I keep riding.

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