Isn’t it funny how we, as human beings, change?
Sometimes transformation happens quickly, and other times it is both painstakingly slow, and, well, just plain painstaking.
Sometimes changes happens and we aren’t even aware that it is happening.
Sometimes it happens because a judge has ordered it so (although hopefully not that often!) or because outside factors (non-court sanctioned of course) have come to dictate that the current path we happen to be travelling is no longer viable.
(Picture a giant Gandalf impersonater shouting, “YOU SHALL NOT PASS!” – or whichever knock-off literary reference you think most fitting.)
In the end, the result is the same: we as human beings change.
I was thinking the other day about just how different my life is from this same time last year.
Sure, at the root of it all, many of the larger pieces that make me “me” are still the same: I am still with the love of my life, living in the same house, with the same mad cat.
But I have a different job, different friends (although I am lucky that many of the same old friends are still bopping about!); I am running more, and running faster.
I started comedy, and am having a harder time sticking to a regular blogging schedule despite the fact that I am trying to do more writing.
I play soccer.
I play soccer.
Now, for those of you who don’t know me – well, this is quite the departure from where I used to stand in terms of this sport.
I used to think it was pretty much the worst.
And now I absolutely love it.
Please let me explain.
But before I do, I will present to you the formal title of a three-part rant:
Things I used to hate, but now I love: How I came around to soccer, coffee, and camping
Part 1 – Soccer.
Or “football” in the parlance of all you readers residing outside of North America.
(Funny side-note: I also used to hate watching our version of football until a few years ago, and now very much enjoy it.)
Sporting evolution! It happens!
Anywho, back to soccer.
Like 99.9% of West Coast kids, I played this sport as a youngster. This meant weekends spent driving around in the fall and winter rain, running up and down soggy pitches, and trying my darndest to keep away from any and all actual ball-related action.
I was terrified of the ever-clashing elbows and ankles and shins and knees, and preferred to steer clear of both my fellow teammates and adversaries alike.
However, I did really love running, so most of my time was spent sprinting from one end of the field to the other as far away from the scrum as I could non-conspicuously manage.
I distinctly remember overhearing one of my coaches remark to a parent, “Vanessa is fast – but doesn’t seem to do much else besides run.”
Too true sir.
So – not as inconspicuous as I had hoped.
After a couple of years of this charade, and hours spent toodling around on different rec teams, I threw in the proverbial soccer towel and concentrated on the sports I actually cared about – running, badminton, and volleyball.
Fast forward to 2003, when I met the man that I would eventually marry – a lovely fellow who absolutely loved soccer, having played it at a very high level all throughout high school and who still owns two pairs of cleats (best be prepared I am always told) to this day.
During our formal courtship, he inquired if I would ever had any interest in playing soccer with him.
I promptly responded no.
But my reasoning behind my decline was no longer my fear of getting of getting hurt, or receiving a rogue elbow to a lip.
It was everything to do with the fact that, at that point in my life, I couldn’t partake in non-regulated exercise. My eating disorder dictated everything in my life (including any and all physical activity) to such a degree, that anything outside of my normal “controlled” environment was enough to bring on a panic attack.
The few times that I did try and play, everything felt awkward and wrong.
It was almost as though I could feel my body rebelling the moment I walked onto the pitch.
My skin crawled, and my stomach cramped.
In the end I told Marc that I didn’t like playing, that I thought the sport was boring.
It didn’t help, I elaborated, that I wasn’t any good at it. If I couldn’t win at the game, I said, what was the point in playing?
I passed on years of Friday night soccer matches. I watched Marc would go off and play with friends, while I stayed at home.
After my health improved I still stayed away from the pitch, afraid that the ghosts of times past would come to haunt me, the second my foot made contact with the field, the ball.
That was until, at the end of this summer, when a friend (a new friend, but a fab friend) invited me to his birthday party, the first half of which was a pick-up game of soccer.
Amazingly enough, I knew that this situation was a no-brainer. I didn’t just want to go out and play that Friday night, I needed to.
And you know what?
Despite the fact that I was the only on there without soccer cleats AND was clocked in the eye with another good friend’s shoulder, I had an absolutely fabulous time.
Instead of feeling clammy and self-conscious, I felt exhilarated and at-ease.
I actually ran towards the ball.
And I have played at least one a week since.
Marc and I like to head to the many parks in our neighbourhood and practice passing, dribbling, and penalty kicks.
I have a sweet pair of cleats that make me feel like a superstar.
And heck, when I feel like it, for old time sake – I’ll go out and wind myself, sprinting the length of the field.
Again and again.
Because goodness knows, that never gets old.