Raw, adjective: 4. painfully open, as a sore or wound.
(I had leftover buttercream icing for breakfast this morning. Very not-raw, but very delicious. It just looked so lonely sitting there half-used in the fridge. And it goes smashingly with french vanilla coffee. So I've got about ten minutes yet until the sugar crash hits. Let's see if I can't knock out a little post before my blood sugar nosedives.)
That's the little bro there to left, rocking the purple goggles from circa 1998, at the Florida house earlier this summer. He'll probably kill me for posting this shot, but for illustrative purposes, it's golden.
So this has officially been the summer of Sporty Spice. I realized it this morning on rolling out of bed and feeling roughly like an 80-year-old grandma whose joints ache and who bitches about her back all day long. Because in spite of the yoga and the hydrating and the stretching and all that, ohmigod. Everything hurts.
I read once that the best way to truly know yourself is to think about what you were like as a kid, before you really learned how to be what society wants you to be. Say, 8 or 10 years old. What'd you do, how'd you spend your time, what was your personality like, that sort of thing. And this summer, with its aching muscles and sunburned brow, makes me feel like I am about nine years old again. In a really great kind of way.
Those were the summers spent in daylight at the pool and in twilight on the softball field or playing tennis on a ratty court or whacking the badminton birdie with B as the prairie sun went down, if we were lucky enough to catch an evening with little to no wind. Brown as a berry and constantly outdoors, wearing out swimsuits and ballgloves like there was no tomorrow.
Somehow as we get older and Real Life takes over, those long athletic days turn into 8-to-5 jobs sitting in front of a computer staring glassy-eyed into a dull screen. So how nice it has been to get back to that feeling this summer.
It started a few months ago with an increasingly intense yoga practice, lots of new classes and styles and asanas and what have you. And in the last couple of weeks, I've been playing baseball (er, softball, really, but doesn't "baseball" sound so much sexier?) with a scrappy team of friends and co-workers, and between Thursday night games in the fog in the Presidio and Wednesday afternoon practices in the sun of the Marina, it's been so fab, you have no idea.
I'm covered with bruises, shins tender and knocked-around, with an especially badass new one extending nearly halfway from my wrist to my elbow. Nevermind the part about it being kind of self-inflicted; I feel like an Olympic warrior already. My right arm's tight and angry from throwing, my left-hand fingernails filthy and black from the old black ball glove I picked up at the thrift store up the street, and my back is crazy achy from swinging the bat for the first time in a few years. And I've been spending waaaay too much time walking in circles at Lombardi Sports, drooling.
Yesterday after a 2-hour practice I walked home up Chestnut Street literally smelling like shit from the fertilizer on the field, scooping out half a melon with a spoon while I walked, peeking out from under an old faded Empyrean Ales ballcap. And I was happier right then, more lived in and sweaty and sunburned and sore, than I've been in ages. And tonight we'll play again at Fort Scott, wearing 3 shirts and a snowcap and trying desperately to keep our fingers warm in the nighttime fog, and I'll think to myself: yeah, this is what it's about.
So my new project, as the baseball bruises heal, is more Phelps-ian. You see, when the sibs were down in Florida in May, I dug out all my old swimming gear from college and the few summers I was living down there lifeguarding. Everything's been stored down there for years, and as I rifled through old trunks full of cheesy goggles (witness above) and ratty old Speedos and my dog-eared old teaching guides, I realized how eager I am to get back in the pool. My friends Tom and Brian are training for a tri right now, and they've been swimming two mornings a week at a nearby pool, and I've been intending to join them for weeks now, but something like yoga or sleep or writing or the night before always seems to get in the way. But in light of Phelps and Co.'s great visibility in these Games, I've recommitted to getting my ass in the pool with them and rediscovering those old forgotten muscles. It's been awhile since I did a decent breaststroke, but I'm itching to get back where I was. And, um, to get those shoulders.
So that's the Sporty Spice update. Seriously, if there's one thing I've discovered, it's how great intramural sports are again after some time away, especially when adult beverages are involved. And team shirts bearing unicorns. Look into it. It's such a lift. And you'll wear your bruises with pride, guaranteed - even when they're self-inflicted.