I left the house at 5:30 Sunday night, fortified with cappuccino, clad in rumpled, paint-splattered blue jogging pants and a t-shirt, and warmed by my folks' encouragement. I drove out to Flesherton, gingerly pressing the gas pedal through my mom's soccer cleats. At 5:50, I drove into my friend's driveway and stretched out my legs and back. By 6:30, twenty people, men, women and children, were filling up with water and grinning at each other onthe soccer pitch behind our organic dairy farming hosts' house.
A half dozen kids were under twelve, one was seven, and our oldest adult was at least in his sixties... Do you remember that feeling when you were a kid of coming up against adults ? I don't remember it at all. The kids amazed me. The only one we coddled (and that was rare) was the youngest. They just held their own. Man.
We played soccer for over two hours. I took it upon myself to manage the backfield, or whatever the area in front of the goalkeeper is called. Nevertheless I got a lot of play. I even headed the ball a few times, once in the right direction. There's no greater satisfaction than doing something you're scared of, is there?
Soccer is completely new to me. Perhaps it was on my high school phys. ed. curriculum, but that was decades ago and I don't remember. Because of the fact that I had no childhood friends, I never played sports on the street. I don't have a t. v., so I've probably watched, oh, a half dozen games.
I'm playing soccer because I can't play any team sports that involve my hands. And I need to develop a social life here so that I don't freak out and pick up my watermelon again.
So I wanted to like it. Instead, I fucking loved the game. What a charge! If the crowd were different, my tune would change. But what a vibe. I'm told that sometimes, when mostly men come out, that they get their game on more, even come close to blows. But last night it was perfect: people fighting hard to win, laughing at their own defeats. No ugliness, but still intense. Everyone was totally happily in the Zone.