The thing about the career of a minor professional hockey player is that in most cases you never really know for sure when it is over. Most of the time you just end one season with a vaguely unsatisfying feeling of ‘We’ll maybe possibly could be doing this again next year? Or never again? See ya later!’ And as time goes on and Dave gets older and our family gets bigger (and therefore less desirable to teams) and our feet get less itchy and his shoulder gets more achy and Ves starts asking more ‘when are we going HOME?’…the end is in sight. I don’t know if it’s here. I don’t know when it’s coming. And once it has arrived I’m sure we’ll feel surprised to see it here so soon. And while this career always had an expiration date, we c an definitely feel that we are closer to it than ever.
So just in case I’ve been trying to take it all in. To watch and enjoy. And by watch I mean actually look at the ice while the game is on. To contain (some of) my complaints and enjoy the games despite cold toes and support Dave’s love of hockey despite my general ambivalence for sport-watching. In the past I’ve been known to forgo one of Dave’s games for yoga class. To read a book at the games I do attend. To pretend to have seen him score a goal even though I was staring off into space thinking about what size my feet would be if I didn’t have my big toe. In case you want to know, I estimate a size 4.
I made this resolution to enjoy it and watch it despite the fact that I have two young children with me at the game. One who goes between watching the game and screaming ‘slow down you guys!’ (safety first, most important rule of hockey) and then running wildly along the concourse pushing strangers of her way (safety is no longer an issue) while I shuffle behind apologetically saying ‘Sumimasen! Gomenesai!’ on a loop. The other sleeps soundly until, quite out of nowhere, she starts screaming like a banshee. A banshee who can only be quieted by sweet sweet milky. So it’s a challenge. But I’ve been trying. Just in case.
I’ve been trying so hard that agreed to go to Dave’s last game of the season in Tokyo. On the train. With two kids. And I had to pay for the ticket to the game you guys. The indignity of it all. But I did it anyway. I walked to the train station in the sleet with a toddler stopping to analyze every puddle and a newborn squirming in protest of the carrier. I rode to the next biggest city, rushed through the crowd to make our connecting train with only 4 minutes between arrival and departure, sweated profusely every step of the way. Things went smoothly all morning, relatively speaking, and we arrived in Shinjuku. We went to a coffee shop and ate pain au chocolat for lunch. I ate two, because you know, chocolate. And then there was the incident in the public restroom at the subway station where V started screaming bloody murder about needing privacy and O started screaming about baby things and they were both making sounds you only usually hear from animals being tortured and everyone in the bathroom stared unabashedly. That was the peak of the sweating. And I kept asking myself…why am I doing this? But I knew the answer. Just in case.
But we made it to the game. And watched Dave play the game he loves so much. Ves reveled in the glory of her father tossing her a puck during warm-up. She ran madly around the rink with another miniature Canadian child of the hockey life. We ate french fries and chanted I-ee-su-buck-u! I watched Dave joke with his teammates between whistles. Saw the way he inspects the tape on his stick like it contains the answer to the mysteries of the universe. I took a mental picture of the way he pounds his stick on the ice to call for a pass. The way he chews his mouth guard in that way so that it is certainly not doing it’s job. The way he looks as he skates. We cheered extra loudly when he scored. I looked at V’s face as she screamed ‘Go Daddy Go!’ I took it in. Took it all in. Just in case.