The other night we went to a hockey game. It was my first Amerks' game since the two games we went to in October. In between we went to one college game (the boys went to a second) and one Sabres game, but going all those months between Amerks games was a personal record for me. In comparison to when I was at an average of two games per week, at least, and usually at least a game every few weeks the past few years, this winter was definitely a change.
On one hand, I didn't really miss it. I mean, I wasn't craving going to games and we had plenty to fill our time instead. I am grateful that I don't have to spend half my life at the arena anymore, and I'm even more grateful that Craig doesn't have to spend his whole life there, either.
But on the other hand, hockey has been a huge part of the last 20 years of my life (!). Hockey is what led me to the life I have now. It was my main interest throughout high school, the focus of most of my wall decor in college, and the target of my job search upon graduation. I spent the first 5-1/2 years of my working life employed by a hockey team (among other sports), and met my husband there. And now, six years after leaving that life, my son is a sports nut.
After spending so much time away this winter, I walked into Tuesday's game with a bit of a fresh perspective. It probably helped that it's nearly playoff time, which was always a special time of year when I worked for the team. We never won a championship, and in fact the closest we got was losing in game six of the finals when I was still an intern. But some of our playoff runs, no matter how short, held some of my favorite memories from my time with the Amerks. It was a dream come true working there (even if in reality it wasn't exactly a dream job), and the spring always held such promise and potential. Walking back into the arena with a hint of warmth in the outside air brought back those memories, and seeing a familiar face on the ice (albeit with the other team) triggered fond remembrances of the players that passed through town during my tenure with the team. We ran into the widow of our old friend and co-worker, former Amerk Craig Charron, who passed away a year and a half ago from stomach cancer. It was good to see her and three of their four kids, but it definitely brought my mind back to the days when we worked with Sharky, and all the fun we had as a staff back in the day. We worked hard and played hard (some more than others), and we had a blast despite the constant stress that bogged us down in the office much of the time.
Perhaps what stood out to me most was what wasn't there--the players, our co-workers, and so much around the arena that's different than it was back then--and the absence of those things made me just a little wistful for that period of my life that I willingly left behind. Don't get me wrong, I needed to leave when I did and I could never go back. It was not the kind of life I could live now, and had I not given it up, Jacob would not have come along when he did. I don't regret any of it, but perhaps now that I'm a parent and live a pretty tame life, I have come to a greater appreciation of the special, unique time that it was. There are so many stories and so many memories, and those of us that lived through them could rehash those stories for hours. Though we all had our beefs with each other at times, there was a certain dysfunctional family vibe to it all, and I think we'd all settle back in pretty easily if given the opportunity to reunite. It was quite an experience, and while part of me is sad that it's over and past, I can't help but be grateful for the gift that its ending gave me:
|Does it get any better than this?|
|Is this the life, or what? Watching a game from a suite with my little boy (and Craig, too!)|
Yep, I've got it pretty good.