Saturday, May 12, 2007

Skating By

So a friend of mine who's in from out of town called me earlier this week to get together. Under normal circumstances, we try to hang out when possible, and since he vacated NYC awhile back it's been more difficult to go to some neighborhood bar for a game and a drink, but we try to make the time when/if possible.

So when he called me and mentioned he wanted me to hang with him and a couple other friends, I hesitantly agreed. Some of the people I've met through him are a tad irritating -- at his own admission -- so every time he brings a mini-entourage it's definitely a stop-and-thinker. It turned out he brought a couple guys I know from high school, so we spent time catching up here and there and planning today's hockey excursion. And even if I didn't want to see my friend and my former classmates, there was still external considerations. I've been incredibly busy so a few hours in front of a big-screen TV at a sports bar sipping a tasty beverage wasn't a problem for me, although I had shitloads of stuff to address this weekend, and having to get all of it done around Mother's Day aren't ideal circumstances. Either way, Kaia wasn't in town so I opted to head out for a little. The Yankees lost 3-0 to Seattle but the Grey Goose was really, really cold.

So this morning I headed downtown and got on ice skates for the first time in way too long. I remembered the feeling of tightening the laces so intensely that my feet felt like they were about to lose circulation; the feeling of being on a bench in a locker room and doing my own personal version of a "Please Don't Let Me Die On The Ice" prayer; and finally, the exhileration of feeling the air rushing at me while racing up the off-wing on an odd-man rush. Even with a couple of vodka-tonics still lingering in my system (where I don't know), it was nice getting out there, even if it was at an ungodly hour and we wrapped up about the time I was normally due to get out of bed on a sunny Saturday morning.

So all in all it was nice to get back to hockey, even if for only a semi-intense scrimmage. It was also nice potting a few pucks, even if one -- by accident -- glanced off the goaltender's helmet (been there, done that -- and I didn't hit him with a slapshot). The bottom line is I really love playing the game, and I know that if I re-committed to it I could play weekly without question. But it's one thing to climb onto the treadmill for 45 minutes or an hour every day; it's another to wake up at 5AM, even on the weekends, to play a game that could land me on a trainer's table or a hospital bed.

And as I headed back uptown, pondering the trainer's table/hospital bed option, it occurred to me that I'm not expecting or anticipating either of those results. I've played about 300 or so games over the years and not had any serious injuries beyond one major incident. But on the other side of that coin, I remember reading a comment from Wayne Gretzky upon his impending retirement from hockey. "When you're thinking about the possibility of injury while you're out on the ice, that's usually the time when you get injured. That's when I knew it was time to stop playing."

I may only wear one '9' on my sweater, but it's hard to argue with that logic. That is, even if I had it in me to argue.

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