A confessional on why I isolated myself from all my high school friendships
Today I stayed after school to see some of my students play in their soccer and field hockey games. It’s always fun to see students in their element, and sometimes I even get to see a side of them I didn’t even know existed!
After the field hockey games ended, I was walking towards my car and talking to some of my field hockey players when one of the girls remarked that she was cold. “We have to wear these skirts with our uniforms,” she explained. (Oh lawdy don’t get me started.) I jokingly said that they should all wear neon tights under their uniforms, that a lot of volleyball players wore neon socks when I played in high school.
Holy crap did that stop them in their tracks.
“YOU PLAYED VOLLEYBALL?!?!!”
“Were you good?”
I did the teachery thing and said that I was okay, and that typically people don’t accurately answer if they are “good” at something, at least not in our society.
For the record, I was alright.
As I told my students, I was as clumsy on the volleyball court as I am in real life.
All night I’ve been thinking about this, and I realized something kind of weird:
I miss being athletic.
Now, I was never a major athlete in high school. I only played volleyball. I even declared to my entire gym class on the last day of my senior year that I would never again do another push up. (It’s been over 6 years and I’m still keeping that promise!) However, sports were a part of my life since I was a kid. I danced from age 3-15. I played rec soccer from elementary school through eighth grade. I played rec basketball from 5th grade until I was a teen. I lived for cold winter days where we’d be running outside in gym class. I was a beast at archery.
When it came to volleyball, my big feet and gawky stance didn’t get in the way. They empowered me to jump above the net and block a hit. Sometimes I could even slam the ball to the corner of the court! Even though my legs would tangle themselves up, I’d still dive to the ground and OH MY GOD FLOORBURN. I was at my peak Junior year when I got to pay my heart out on JV instead of being benched on Varsity.
So, I was good on some days, and not-so-good on others. (’tis the life of a klutz!)
Regardless of my skills, or lack thereof, I sometimes find myself missing volleyball. I can smell the burn of 6 pairs of sneakers on the waxed gymnasium floor. I remember losing 20 pounds every volleyball season just by sweating in the sauna of a small gym. I remember the struggle of searching for underwear that wouldn’t create pantylines with my spanx without being a thong. I can feel the sweat rashes forming on my knees from kneepads as I type this post.
Maybe I should break out the ol’ Wilson one day and bump, set, and spike the afternoon away…
Today is the sort of day where it’s warm enough to want to open your jacket, but cold enough that the Winter air stabs your lungs.
These are the sorts of days where I miss high school gym class.
While I wasn’t the most athletic person in my teens– heck, I’m still not– I truly loved running in the cold weather. There was something about having the cold air piercing my lungs as I ran a meaningless circle on the track in shorts and a hoodie that calmed me. Running in the cold freed me, and, even though I really wasn’t any good at it, it became my escape in the winter. I would sing Rent songs in my head (we weren’t allowed to have discmans or ipods on the track) and ruminate about my blooming sexuality. I would run, both physically and mentally, through all of the worst case scenarios in my heads, and, after 42 minutes of consistency, I would be able to focus on whatever could get me through the rest of the day. High school was a time of secretly discovering who I was, and running in the cold during second period gym class became a part of that process.
I wish I could still enjoy the briskness of a winter morning without snow– it’s rare.