Seaside Part 1 - Once more into the breachSubmitted by ArdAtak at 2010-08-27 18:42:17 EDT
Rating: -1.5 on 10 ratings (10 reviews) (Review this item) (V)
I'm trying to polish this piece but it's not coming together well. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated. The usual venom and sarcasm is fine too. I just need some input on how it can be improved. I might post part 2 as well once it's a bit more solidified.
1) I usually write numbers as numbers instead of words. This is intentional.
2) I sometimes treat fragments as sentences. Like this. This is intentional.
I took my bruises, took my lumps
Fell down and I got right back up
But I need that spark to get psyched back up
In order for me to pick a mic back up
I don't know how or why or when
I ended up in this position I'm in
I'm starting to feel distant again
So I decided just to pick this pen
Up and try to make an attempt
to vent but I just can't admit
Or come to grips with the fact
that I may be done rhymin’
I may need a new outlet
And I know some shit's so hard to swallow
But I can't just sit back and wallow
In my own sorrow
but I know one fact
I'll be one tough act to follow
Here today, gone tomorrow
There was no mistaking it. My customized Google news page was trying to tell me something.
Beach Volleyball – Remove
It was giving me the option to remove the beach volley section from my news page. But why? And why did none of the other news sections offer this option? World, US, Sports, Health, Sci/ Tech, Football, Video Games, … they were all on the list. But only Beach Volley had the “Remove” link in front of it. Was this due to the AVP’s recent bankruptcy? Did Google know about my miserable performance at the Seaside tourney? Or was this just a sign from God? And if so, why in the world would I, for even one second, consider taking it seriously?
I sip coffee next to my office window, watch traffic on Airport Road, and reflect on the past decade. How did I get here?
10 years ago I was driving down that same road in a mad rush to Greenlake with R2D2 by George Acosta bumpin’ in my Jeep, trying to beat the Boeing rush hour before getting stuck in traffic or losing the best courts to some hacks. Matty would be meeting there and we’d soon set up the yellow Jose` Cuervo net, crank up the house anthems on the boombox, and take on all comers. And you best not chip or try that finess crap on our net or you’d swiftly be escorted out by security. Athletes only. THIS - IS - JOSE` !!! But that was a long time ago. Matty moved away and I have since switched to playing in the sand to spare my back and knees further agony. Chips and finesse is all I have left now. But the beach games not all that bad. In fact, the lifestyle is right up my alley.
Something about being at the beach fills me with joy. Life is simple at the beach. People are generally nice. On the weekends, when I take the kids to my games, long after the players have gassed out and the nets have come down, I stay on the beach with the kids. We bump the ball around and play other games they invent on the spot. Sometimes we walk down to the end of the beach, exploring for shells and other sea life. I am whole on the sand. No shirt. No Shoes. No problems. And when I bring the kids home and wash those black streaks off their faces and bellies in the tub as they giggle and shampoo each others hair, laughing at their shampoo Mohawks, I lay on the bathroom floor with icepacks on my shoulder, back, and knees and I feel like the best dad in the world.
I sometimes jokingly refer to volleyball as “my job” and my actual job as “that other thing I do for money”. I don’t know how sane or healthy it is to think this way for someone in my position. I just know that it makes me happy. But the sport is not all roses and groovy vibes. It can be scary and, at times, haunting. One of those very rare sports with 2-man teams. You don't have the security and anonymity of large team sports. I remember feeling safe in the huddle. 10 other guys all seeing and feeling the same thing as you. You also don't have the freedom and guilt-free independence of individual sports. Despite being competitive in track and swimming, even the worst performance didn't bother me for very long. My results were mine and mine alone. No one else cared or suffered from my shortcomings and I was comfortable with that. But there was also no one to share the highs with. I think that might be why I always had a stronger passion for relay races. Sharing the race with 3 other guys gave it value and excitement.
But volleyball ... you MUST have chemistry. You must know your partners tendencies. You gotta feel him. The 2 man dynamic is very intense. You're basically the entire rest of the team for your partner. If he's playing well and you're still losing it's all on you. There's no coach, no substitute, no place to hide. This sport is not for mental midgets. It will test your will, your endurance, your focus, your character, and most importantly your heart. The winningest team at the beach where I train is a pair of 40 somethings. They’re unassuming enough and do not appear highly athletic. When separated, they're as beatable as the rest of us. But put them together, in a serious game, and none of the krafty(*1) veterans or high-flying youth can touch them.
This is the chemistry that Matt and I shared in our 20’s. We consistently beat more experienced and athletic teams by virtue of our chemistry and conditioning. But that was a long time ago. Ten years, a shoulder surgery, a knee surgery, 2 compressed discs, infinite pulled or torn muscles, 2 kids, 2 mortgages, and 2 weddings have come and gone (well … not entirely gone) between the two of us. To say that we’re mere shadows of our former selves would be an understatement.
During the prior Fall and Winter, as I was rehabbing my back with poor results and the situation seemed dire, I made a decision that if I could just get back to playing the game for fun I’d be grateful. I didn’t care about tournaments, competition, or winning anymore. I just wanted to play again. I wanted to do it for the same reasons I started playing in the first place. Reasons which I had gradually forgotten. Sometimes the love of the game and joy of playing with your friends takes a back seat to things like winning, points, rankings, and in the case of the truly talented, money. I'd been on both side of this equation. Like most I started playing the game for fun. Something you do with your friends. Gradually, if you manage to get better and retain your passion for the game, the circle of people you want to play with and against shrinks. You have no time to waste on beginners and hacks. Forgetting that you yourself were once a young hack. Forgetting that if it wasn't for the kind and generous nature of the veterans that came before you, the ones who took you under their wing and taught you the game instead of pointing you to the lower courts, you still might be a hack.
Eventually, there's only a group of 20 or so people which you want to play with. The problem is that you will most likely not share much in common with them on a personal level. Sure you both play the same sport but the likelihood that you’d have really close personal friends in this circle is low. I'd placed 9th out of 56 teams at seaside a few years ago with James in my pre-spinal days. The relationship between James and I could be called formal at best. Although immensely talented, James was an introvert by nature, and what most would consider "Humorless". I honestly don't think I ever heard him laugh although he did crack a few smiles or occasionally raise his voice in a heated match, "NICE SHOT PARTNER !!!" We were relatively successful but I wasn't playing with my friends anymore. Since Matt moved to SanDiego I'd been a bit of a volleyball slut, playing with whoever was stupid or desperate enough to play with a beat-up 5-9er on the wrong side of 30.
At some point in the summer, shortly after we returned from Colin’s wedding in Greece, Matt brought up the idea to play together at Seaside. “I just wanna come up and see the fellas and play some games together”. Several players had already asked me to play at Seaside with them but I said I wasn't healthy enough to train properly for tournament level play (nor did I care to) but when Matty asked I couldn’t say no. He insisted that it was my idea and that I brought it up in Greece when we were playing quite a bit (almost every other day) but frankly I don’t recall that conversation. But I did recall that we played well together and my back wasn’t hurting much anymore. I had discovered a warmup routine that seemed to manage my back pain while also providing endless jabs and humiliation from the boys at the beach. I basically had to hump the sand in various positions for about 30 minutes and I’d be good to go. Ofcourse not a day went by that I didn’t have to hear some crack about “sand babies”, “Jane Fonda”, “Humping the sky”, “Kiegel Excercises”, “Putting my back into it”, “Respecting the family beach”, etc. from the guys.
So now my old compadre was asking me to play with him again. I had logged a lot of pain-free hours on the sand during the summer and felt very confident. And to be honest, I was excited to hit the trenches one more time.
To be continued …
(*1) Misspelling intentional.