Thursday, January 12, 2006
PROLOGUE | PART 2 | PART 3 | PART 4 | PART 5
We arrived at the breakfast place where I shared my night’s tale with several other members of my team, and a few friends and former teammates who were wondering why I looked like I’d been deported. Matt Bruss was especially poignant in some of his remarks, but calmly broke the somber mood with his humor and feigned nescience. I set about looking at the other patrons in the diner, and realized half of the world’s top fifty Ultimate players were eating there at once. Had a terrorist at that moment decided it was a good place to bomb, the new best player in Ultimate would probably have been Adam Tarr, and the new dynasty Jawbone out of Ohio. It made me laugh a little to think of it, and that felt good.
I felt better after eating, human again, and decided to redirect my energy to a positive place, a familiar place, an effective place: the ownership of whomever might guard me in the day’s games...!
Oh yes! Lest we forget, after that night, there was still another day of Ultimate to be played. How I would find the emotional and physical strength to play it was beyond my ken, I only knew it had to be done.
We returned to the fields and the good news that we had a first round bye, and as time passed I became more alert and the events of last night, as best as I could remember them, were sinking in.
Our morning match-up was against CK, Cram, O’Brien, Enessa, et al. I remember playing well. Very well. I threw and scored a lot of points. I also remember tripping up with CK on double game point and not contesting the foul. And I remember his subsequent throw to Enessa for the game winner.
But all this is secondary, because not once during the entire game did I not remember my conversation outside the truck and the way we’d just stared at each other for an eternity before we spoke. Well, maybe once I stopped remembering it. I was about to score a goal at a critical moment on O’Brien. All Sebby needed to do was throw something, anything, into the corner of the endzone from two yards out. He could have tossed it like a shot-put. Anything but the floating, lazy scoober that hung for too long and came up too short so O’Brien ran in front and fell into the block. Then, for one moment, the bewilderment at the choice of throw gave me respite from my other preoccupations.
Our following game was against Hang Time from Texas, and despite the fact that I just love crushing real coed teams at tourneys just like this one, my heart wasn’t into it. In fact, no one’s was. Everyone stumbled from one point to another but no one had any pizzazz or fire. But near half, down a few, they started shitting on their own women, making tacky calls, and taking the game too seriously, and we called a time-out to remind ourselves that if we can extract no joy from beating down practicing coed teams, the terrorists have already won. We dropped some shock and awe on them in the second half and after shotgunning two red bulls I was ready to take names again. I lent myself entirely to the Dark Side and let my passions and emotions dictate my movement on the field and we ended up storming back and beating them by several points.
That sudden ejaculation of emotion exhausted, we slumped on the sidelines as a team and decided we’d had enough disc and elected to not play our next game, taking some sadistic pleasure from telling our opponents they could move on in our stead. I joined my Boulder brethren, smoked a load, and felt relaxed and unencumbered for the first time in days. We laughed, shared stoned stories from the weekend, then grabbed some snacks and moved to watch the semifinals games where the Vagabonds were owning Team USA.
The crowd began thirsting for the upset and soon every sick play by Aaron Richards, Leslie Calder, Keith Monahan, and Brian Snyder was rewarded with lusty cheers. Team USA, the soi-disant best team in the country, fell to a ringer team of Northwest players. Their disappointment was matched only by the Vagabonds’ exuberance. And the crowd’s guilty satisfaction. I had little interest in watching the finals because I was up to my crow in disc, so I made my way back to the tent to prepare my things and be ready for when my girlfriend would arrive and we would have an uncomfortable ride back to her Seattle apartment.
Gone were the goals and plans of a bittersweet but enjoyable week with her before our end. It was replaced, I could see in both our minds we were walking through scenarios in which we’d be out of each other’s hair as quickly as possible. However, my flight wasn’t for another 6 days, and although neither of us had any desire to spend it together, I had no desire to pay for the transfer fee to change my flight. I knew my patience outweighed her discomfort, however, so I merely waited until she offered to pay for the ticket’s fee, which she did. Considering the weekend’s events, I considered it a fair solatium. The drive home was full of quotable gems I’ll decline to share, but her piebald arguments seemed directed at being hurtful and irrelevant so as to make the separation that much more justified. I burked my comments, and let her try to shrive away her guilt as best she could. At some point I just stopped listening and started trying to take in everything that had happened.
The One They Call Wade offered his services and house as a place to crash for the night or week, and as touched as I was by the generosity, I just wanted to get home to Boulder, to lay down roots for the first time, to reach tabula rasa and look forward with promise. We arrived at her apartment and Moises Rifkin picked me up and took me to his new, empty apartment, where he provided me with a sleeping bag, pillow, thermarest, and a few kind words. He left, and I laid in the bag. It was the fourth of July, the fireworks overlooking the water began to explode, and I heard their thunder and muffled partying all around. I slowly dozed off, hoping to find in a dream the clarion answers that had eluded me all weekend.