We got our asses kicked last Saturday.
Our team lost to the Brawlers of Houston last Saturday, but still, all in all, it really was a good game. Our morale sunk in the second half, and our blockers as well as our jammers seemed exhausted and ready to roll over and die. I was looking at the clock during the last ten minutes of the game, when the Brawlers were leading us by over 100 points, and I thought, “Can’t we just call it? Do I really need to go out there again?” But we did go back out there, and even though I think I only scored two more points, I was proud of myself. I was proud of all of us. I looked over at our fellow teammates who play on our Capital Defenders team, who raised a poster with my picture on it that just said “MILF,” and thought, “Aw. I love you guys.” Even when we lose, I still love my team, and I still love being a part of this.
When I was in the shower this morning, which is where I do my best thinking, I was pondering random things and realized that derby is really the first thing in my life that I’ve ever done that’s made me proud of myself. It’s not as though I’ve never accomplished anything, but derby is the first thing I’ve ever wanted to tackle and actually followed through. I did it for me and me alone. No one wanted me to do it, no one pressured me to join the team. I decided to do it and really stuck to my guns. When I went to my first practice I wouldn’t admit to myself how badly I wanted to be a part of the team. I was afraid that my work and family commitments would prevent me from giving the time needed to follow through, or that I’d allow myself to use them to make excuses as to why I let myself quit, and I didn’t want to set myself up for heartbreak. After a couple of weeks of trying to get my rink legs, Violet Reaction came up to me and said, “I think you’re going to be a good jammer.” A jammer?! ME?! It was all I could do not to squeal and rapidly clap my hands like some kind of cheerleader. That’s all I needed to hear. I was hooked.
What about other so-called accomplishments? Aren’t I proud of anything else? I often hear people – usually old people whose kids are finally out of the house – say, “My kids are my greatest accomplishment!” Um, that’s creepy. Are children an accomplishment? That’s weird to me. What a foreign idea. I’m proud of my kids because I’m proud of them, not myself. I don’t take credit for myself if they do something well. It’s not like to you have to study and train for years and then you’re rewarded with a kid at the end, like some kind of trophy. Ew.
What about grad school? Accomplishment? Maybe. I wanted a master’s degree. I took the classes, wrote the thesis, finished, got it. It was a process, a hurdle, but it wasn’t a pump-the-air-with-my-fist kinda thing. I didn’t even go to my graduation. I endured, and now I pay student loans for a degree I don’t use. That’s done. Check.
Then there were ten years of piano lessons. Seriously – TEN YEARS. Numerous competitions, some won, some lost. It required an inhumane amount of time and the longer I stayed in it the more the pressure grew. If I won, the best feeling was the adrenaline draining from me and thinking, “Whew. Glad that’s over.” Again, no fist-pumping-yay-I-did-it feeling. Just relief. I’m glad I studied piano for as long as I did, but it was never really something I wanted for myself. I started lessons when I was six years old because my two older sisters took lessons. It’s just what my family did. At my first lesson I honestly believed that it was piano lesson, not lessons, and that you went to a teacher, she showed you how to play, and then you could do it. An hour, tops, and I thought I would be able to play the piano. Oops.
I wasn’t one of those kids who ran home from school to practice. I had friends like that – friends who had to wear braces on their wrists for carpal tunnel syndrome from over practicing because they were so dedicated. The closest I ever came to getting carpel tunnel was when my husband bought me a PlayStation for my birthday and I discovered Crash Bandicoot. Piano was good for me, I was decent at it, but I was never passionate about it. It was expected, and I delivered. Check.
But that feeling – that derby feeling – is overwhelming. I think it’s largely due to the fact that you’re part of a whole. You’re not out there by yourself. I’m not walking out on the track to jam alone. I love the tag of a jammer going out and a jammer coming on. A fellow jammer comes off the track, slips the helmet panty into my hand, we give each other a high five, and I skate up to the line. I lean over to put my toe on the line, catch Rock Bottom’s eye, she nods at me almost imperceptibly and I know she’s going to take me through. Everyone needs to shine to pull it together to make it work. There’s nothing like the “WE DID IT!” mosh pit of skaters after we win a game. We’re all jumping around and hugging and slapping each other’s helmets. It’s invigorating and makes every bruise, every hit, every minute of practice worthwhile. After every game I feel like we’ve accomplished something, and I have real pride for myself and my teammates. I did this for me, I did this for them, we did this for one another. Bottom line: whether we win or lose, we’re fucking awesome. I have passion for this. That, right there, is the accomplishment.
After our last home game I was walking back to my car to go to the after party, riding high because we played our best and won, and a complete stranger yells across the parking garage, “Hey, Moxie! Great game tonight!” I opened the door and slid into the car, leaned my head back against the seat, sighed deeply and said, “Yeah, man. Yeah it really was.”