Line Judging and Lapping Up the Swim Meet
Negative fifteen degrees at midnight feels like dry ice, like liquid nitrogen, like a cold broken heart. I stand under a hot stream of water showering for what feels like hours thanking God for a home, for warmth, and wishing for a February thaw. Only minutes and miles ago thought myself so fortunate to not be homeless, or broken down on the side of the road. Fortunate I was not a pioneer of past. I would have frozen….died……been burried along the trail, or tossed aside. Wolf food.
After a four hour return trip, I am yearning for a hot cocoa or hot lemonade with apple cider vinegar and molasses, or a moca misto. A hot never ending shower, a warm fuzzy terry cloth robe, a soft bed, a snuggle and embrace. Sleep. Restful dreams. Replaying in remming state qualifying times. Ahhh.
I feel a fever creeping up on me. Wish it away to healthy thoughts and thanksgivings. I hope I am alright. Long, cold, drafty bus rides have side effects. Wish to avoid pesky, regretful remainders. Don’t want to think or dream on these. Only dividends. Only jackpot winnings. Only pace clock givings.
Many times I’ve felt this cold in feeling alone. Sometimes in taking hot or cold flashes to the body….to the heart. Recently I have remedied lonely feelings with hot lemonade, and big wide brim cowboy smiles. In reading between the lines. In seeing metaphores, sometimes I am hit with one of these humbling lightning strikes…..that turn to smiles in righting me to happier trails and away from wayward ways. Heartland stuff sometimes from the most unsuspecting outlaw characters of readers theater.
In pondering if I was good and if I let my light shine at the meet tonight, or if I snubbed or kicked anyone to lights out. In this I thought of flashlights. Flashlights are a hot commodity for coaches on a late night bus homeward bound after a swim meet. Needed for interpreting data, swim times, rankings, lost and found points…..justification….for planning instruction. Bright into light information. Clarify toward understanding and communication.
I am like a mini mag on a key ring…or on the Head Coaches belt loop. I am a reliable side-kick assistant coach. I faithfully possess what is needed: pens, highlighters, flashlights, flashdrives, food, pain reliever, information, a oversized listening ear, sometimes knowledge and know how. Loyalty. This requires muting movies and taking out skullcandy for human connections. Don’t mind losing ear buds to a sticky bus floor in this thing.
My hearing ears feel oversized like the payloads I see in passing semis, or the half dozen giant windmills in Spanish Fark Canyon. My ears are not as lage as these sequoias though. These very pale spinning ents, orchestrating an attack on an Orchan breed. I only wish they worked better in hearing truth and wisdom.
I wonder the size of the hearing aid for one of these “Go baby, Go Baby, Go Baby Go-s,” this an excerpt from the solicitous new team cheer. Wish my listening was more regular and effective, rather than irregular, ineffective, and unremarkable. Wish my speech and writing slower, careful, focused. Wonder if any one of the swimmers could tell me in this moment what they learned from me or Coach the day before, or the hour before?
I know how to encourage and I know how to intervene in a way that speaks I care to teens. I care that they hurt. I care that they’re progressing. I care that they finished the race. That their goggles stayed on. That they are hungry. So as such, I also know how to take Subway sandwich orders for after the meet. I am glad I can help in some small ways.
I care so much that all of this caring carries my voice away like a thief in the night. At first it is cummulous like the steam from the huge Coal Electro Generation Facility in this tiny town. Condensing in clouds until it is nearly MIA.
I cheer the volume of this amazing pool and facility. In time, howerver, my voice becomes rigid in cracking, a small stiff brush of affirmation. But by the end of the meet and with overuse, the thing is softer, more supple in smoking economical cheers. It is rather ready for sabatical, but I stay on as I give it away to any one needing a good soft, soothing brush down. My throat chakra ridden hard and put away wet in flip turn spashings.
In reboarding the bus, these kids look and feel like Triple Crown winners tonight. Remembering the sometimes played overture of the final 400 that simulates a horse race . In hearing “the last lap” signal sound, some swimmers are still sprinting and creating wakes as if in a gallop. Cool down and egress needed.
I have heard,”The harder you hold on to something…..the more you lose it. Fighting the water not a good thing. In giving away in love and in voicing it…..gain so much including great glide and streamline through life.” I think….I am not going anywhere but here. I have heard this somewhere else before in other teaching and leadership circles, perhaps at a PLC. I am glad for this reassurance.
This night comes to a close. In spite of the love felt, to stay any longer on this yellow submarine would be useless. We pull up to the lifeless school at the witching hour. Debating which way to go home: old road, or I-80. Faster not always better. Clamber out trying not to fall on shifty ice while juggling belongings. Frozen pumpkinsicles. Glove hands. Ice pick our way to cars. Scrape windshields and waddle home behind the wheel of fuzzy, frosty windshields.
I think of miles and miles of broken divided highway lines. Of miles and miles of white ribboning guide lines. There is nothing broken here tonight. I celebrate precious red threads that bind together our swim team: this misfit bunch or nerds, athletes, autistics, exchange students and overworked, underpaid school teaching coaches. Laugh in knowing not a single one of these would exchange places with any other athlete or mentor of any other high school. This is the Brave Way whether there is a street sign or not. We stand together…even if it is on a moving bus on which we should really stay seated in lowered voices. Ha ha. Erupt again in the good feeling.
We make the decent down the Jordanelle pass. We round the resort-like hospital, where a fire is always burning in the lobby. We know we will be home in twenty minutes.
Stone lion guardians of the City of Bright Lights would smile on us tonight. Wish us “Happy Holiday” in hugging quaint Main Street streetlamps. I think the Borrowed line to fit the situation now as “Harmonious.” It seems every swim meet ends with a miracle here. With students swimming in laughter, comradery, personal bests, and hopes of another race. And whatever God may be, I thank God for this day.