We’re such good sports

Gather round friends!

IMG_3322Let me tell you a story.

When we were sixteen, my doubles partner Kristy and I were invited to compete at that year’s Boston Open which was being held at MIT.

Important background information: I used to play competitive junior national badminton. YES I AM AWARE OF HOW NERDY THAT IS SOUNDS – YOU DON’T NEED REMIND ME.

This invitation was very, very exciting news for us.

One, the tournament was taking place on the cusp of Spring Break, so our attendance was basically guaranteeing us an extra long vacation from school, plus the opportunity to spend said extra days IN BOSTON BLOODY MASCHECHUSETTES.

(OMG! I JUST SPELLED MASCHECHUSETTES CORRECTLY ON MY FIRST TRY!)

Ed. update: Okay, obviously I didn’t spell it correctly. But why the fresh hell did it not come up on my spell check? What weird Canadian word of ours is MASCHECHUSETTES!?

Ahem.

MASSACHUSETTS.

Two, we were just at the point where our parents were letting us go to away tournaments by ourselves, and we couldn’t think of anything more fun than bopping about Harvard in between our matches SANS CHAPERONES.

And third, as highly competitive athletes, we wanted to bring our special brand of Canadian kick-ass States-side and see just what kind of damage we could bring to old’ Beantown.

I honestly cannot describe to you how excited I was when our parents gave us the okay to go.

And when I say that the trip was totally bonkers, that, my friends, is no lie.

1.)    Flying to Boston on the redeye Wednesday night, deliriously tired, I turned to Kristy and said, “Look how close the moon is!”

She just stared at me, before responding, “WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT THAT IS THE WING LIGHT.”

Good times! Also, this trip took place pre-9/11 so we actually got to go visit the cockpit and chat with the pilots. Can you believe it?

I can’t.

2.)    When we arrived in Boston we were picked up by our homestay family, only to quickly learn that we wouldn’t actually be staying in the city proper, but a suburb located approximately forty-five minutes (to an hour) outside of the downtown core.

This was a surprise to us.

3.)    Normally homestay families provide meals (usually breakfast and dinner) for the entirety of the athletes’ stay. We were gifted a bag filled with a dozen frozen bagels and a giant fruit salad from Whole Foods.

I ate quite a bit of dried cereal bought from 7/11 over the length of the weekend.

And by cereal I mean penny candy.

4.)    Upon arrival at the house we were told that we would actually be driving ourselves to the tournament. Our billets had recently won a car in a fundraiser raffle, and we were to use this car to transport ourselves to Boston and back. We liked to refer to it as the cardboard car.

We had two pages worth of directions, one “new” drivers license (Kristy) and one “learners” license (me) between the two of us.

Driving in that first morning was harrowing and a half.

Oh, hello giant semi-truck encroaching in our space in this turnpike!

5.)    I forgot all my shorts at home and had to play the entire weekend in the spandex shorts I would normally wear under my regular shorts to keep my muscles warm between games. Because of this some guy wearing a “YALE” t-shirt sat at the back of every court on which I played, watching my every move.

To this day I just refer to him as the YALE CREEPER.

6.) One afternoon we went to a coffee shop at MIT and the flirty barista gave us a GIANT plastic bag filled with six years of Canadian coinage.

7.) I beat an ex-junior national champion in my quarter final singles game and she threw one of the most impressive post-game tantrums I have ever witnessed. Broken racquets and everything.

8.) On our last night at our homestay, their son Don asked Kristy if she wanted to go down to the river and watch the moon with him. She politely declined.

9.) I started reading Catcher in the Rye while in Boston and finished it on the plane ride home. This EXPLODED my brain and as such, I spent the next three months pretending to be Holden Caulfield anytime I wrote ANYTHING.

10.) I made it to the semi-finals in singles, and we also made the semis in doubles. All the rest of our time was spent shopping (I bought a number of sundresses and peasant shirts – remember them? – at Target), walking around the campus, laughing at everything possible, and just generally being the silly, sixteen year old girls that we were.

Twelve years later I remember this trip like it was yesterday. We still laugh about it anytime we get together, and goodness knows the myth of the cardboard car will live on and on for the remainder of my days.

I would also love to return to Boston.

But this time, I’ll stay right in the heart of the city.

In a hotel, with a view of the moon.

A sister act

Yesterday was rad for a number of reasons.

1.)    I got to have cheesecake for lunch.

2.)    I met up with one of my best buds, whom I haven’t seen in quite some time. PLUS she invited me to join her to:

3.)    Go hear Clara Hughes speak.

For those of you who aren’t acquainted with Ms. Hughes, she is an incredibly bad-ass Canadian athlete – multiple Olympic medal winner, and one of the few people in the world who can say that they competed at both the Winter and Summer Olympics. She is both a road biker and speed skater, and medalled in both sports, at multiple games.

This woman has pretty much the biggest smile in the world!

Talk about inspiration. I’ll be running extra hard during my sprint training tomorrow night and then I will force myself to make it to five pull-ups in a row even if it bloody well kills me.

(If my Friday post hasn’t arrived by  11:59pm on the day, please call either M or my mom and let them know something very serious has happened. A missed blog post is not to be trifled with.)

I kid, I kid.

Seriously though folks, I cannot tell you how excited I was about activity number two on yesterday’s  dial-up.

The brilliant, beautiful K has been on secondment in Ohio since September of last year, and working ridiculously long hours at that, so it was great to have a chance to see her and catch up.

K is a long-time (and often long-lost) friend of mine, who, for all intents and purposes, should be given the title of “honorary sister”, what with how much time the two of us spent together growing up.

The next time I see her, I may just have to print up a certificate labelled PhD – S. I’ll give it to her along with a tape of Kids in the Hall, during a late night car ride – two things that are synonymous with sisterhood for me.

She and I spent our formative years training every day together (sometimes twice a day), and if I had a nickel for how many sit-ups the two of us performed side-by-side, I would be Scrooge McDucking it up in my giant warehouse of nickels.

We played junior national badminton together, and she was my doubles partner. When we weren’t kicking butt as a team, we were squaring off against each other in the singles and mixed doubles finales (of whatever tournament we happened to be playing in that weekend.)

And believe you me. When I say “that weekend”, I mean every weekend. EVER.

We had a pretty good gold-silver monopoly going on (albeit competitive to the max – but I mean, who could possibly play sports at a competitive level and not be IN IT TO WIN IT? Definitely. Not. I – that is FO SHO).

But more importantly than our winning – scratch that, nothing is ever as important as winning – (KIDDING! But kind of not really) was the incredibly strong, nuanced, and hilariously fabulous friendship the two of us formed over the years.

I am very serious when I write that sometimes I think I couldn’t have survived my most cringe-worthy awkward (re: teenage) years had it not been for this girl.

K was a rock.

I was pretty much in awe of her at all times; she just exuded the most natural self-confidence, and self-awareness (which at the time, from my perspective, was completely mind-boggling). On court she was a bloody zen master. Calm, cool – the most collected cucumber in a patch filled with absolute zucchinis.

Full disclosure: as I teenager, I was the queen zucchini.

I promise you there probably isn’t a topic in the world that the two of us haven’t covered at some point during our years spent together.

Our friendship is such that I never get anxious when we don’t talk or see each other for prolonged periods of time. Because I know that when we finally do have an opportunity to spend a day with each other, it will be as though nothing has changed, and we are still sixteen, and laughing ourselves silly in some random Calgarian coffee shop, or, Saskatoonian Chinese restaurant, or Torontonian movie theatre, or Haligonian Dairy Queen.

Due to the number of crazy memories we share, we actually started writing a book, chronicalling our many adventures and insides jokes entitled “Apple and Banana’s Fruit Bowl of Jokes.”

(Don’t ask, inside joke.)

Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas is one of our most enduring inside jokes. HI HO!

Anywho, the book is currently packed away with most of my high school memorabilia, but every so often it’s worth the hassle to dig it out, and re-read all of our insane hijinks and crazy escapades.

They slay me, truly.

For instance:

At nationals one year in Calgary, we were warming up before our match, down one of the club’s deserted basement hallways. K was stretching and I was skipping rope.

My rope get hitting the ceiling duct – with each rotation, a dull clang would ring out down the length of the corridor.

K looked up at me and said (in all earnest): You should probably stop that.

Because I was nervous as crap (and over-confident in my understanding of the solidity of ceiling make-ups and apparatuses) I didn’t take her advice to heart, and just kept skipping.

And the rope kept hitting the duct.

After probably another minute, K repeated her earlier warning.

 Look, she said, just move over a little bit.

Pretty much as soon as these words left her mouth, my rope snagged completely on one of the duct’s inner ridges, and as I finished the rotation I ripped the ENTIRE duct, tube and all, out of the ceiling.

Ceiling duct. Pretty self-explanatory.

K’s (and my!) jaws pretty much hit the floor with shock.

Oh my god, I exclaimed.

Oh my god, K exclaimed.

And then, my lovely readers, what followed is pretty much one of the worse case of “the laughs” I have ever experienced in my entire life.

I laughed like a loon for hours about that incident (after, you know, recovering from my disbelief-induced paralysis, and running away from the major destruction for which I was responsible.)

It’s amazing I managed to get myself on the court, let alone make a serve or two.

Even just now thinking about the incident is an ab workout and a half! When I start to feel a little bad about what I did that day (we snuck down the next day to see if the carnage was still fresh, but it had been fixed already) I can’t really be bothered, because the overwhelming hilarity of the memory is still so strong, and fresh, and awesome.

This is why I adore K.

This, for me, is how I define our friendship.

Because even when she is not physically in my life, I have the memories of our time past, spent together, laughing, training, shopping, traveling –

And if I ever want to remind myself of time past, I’ll just go stand under my ceiling fan.

And think about the damage I could do, if I tried.