Virginia, the hockey hater
I played soccer and ice hockey in college, and later played soccer professionally in South America.
In the winter of my sophomore year in college, I started keeping company with the lovely and talented Virginia. She lived in a dorm called Fairchild Hall, and we were both 18 years old. During winter term (a glorious time for hockey players), her roommate was off campus, so I spent most of my nights in her room at Fairchild. Or was there a room like that one, worn with out whispers, a bare tree dancing darkly outside the window, cold wind blowing in the night? Maybe not. But that’s how I remember it.
One night, we were lying in bed, her head pillowed against my chest.
“What are you thinking about, Knox?” she cooed.
“Hockey,” I said.
“Yeah. Sometimes I lie in bed at night fantasizing about hockey. I actually play games in my head, picturing the situations, rehearsing moves and passes, or just feeling the thrill of wheeling up ice, with the puck on my stick.”
I was beginning to wax rhapsodic, consumed by my desire to share my innermost feelings. I continued:
“It’s just the greatest feeling in the world. The cold, winter air. The sound of the puck against the boards. The shower of ice as you stop or turn! The joy of skating – it’s almost like flying, gliding across the ice. God! Just thinking about it is giving me an adrenaline rush! I can hardly keep still. I wish I was out on the ice right now!”
“Fine!” She said. “Out you get!”
“You’re lying here in bed with me, and you wish you were playing hockey!? Out you get!”
I was able to cajole my way back into Virginia’s bed that night. But our relationship was doomed. We broke up a couple of months later when Virginia met a handsome golfer. I did learn something from Virginia, though. Something about the limits of intimacy; something about the ineffable nature of physical joys; something about the practical value of deceit. It was all part of growing up, I suppose.
Still, to this day, lying in bed at night, I sometimes dream about hockey. I never think about big games, or important goals. I just think of a sheet of fresh ice, and a ragtag group of pick-up players, and showing the puck to the defenseman, before pulling it away as I skate by him. Unfortunately, these daydreams are rare.
I don’t play hockey any more, so usually I’m reduced to daydreaming about golf. That’s the heartbreaking part.
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