the passage of time really does give things a different spin. events and experiences seem happier, better, easier, and bigger "back then". memories are littered with black holes and blind spots. i played football (as in round balls and drunk fan/hooligans, not lemon shaped balls and helmets) twice a week when i lived in saudi arabia. i havent played in 20 years- just saying this out loud made me realize the reality of my onward progression towards middle age (!). we played in a nice temperature controlled gymnasium about the size of 2 tennis courts. i liked playing defense, less breathless sprinting after the ball and more opportunity to tackle and tangle myself up with the danish boy i had a monster crush on.
fast forward to age 31. i now find myself standing on san diego high school's grassy football pitch which feels the size of a runway (aeroplane not anorexic coathangers) and i stand there in my 'no knobbly bits on the sole' running shoes and bare shins. i was initially relieved when a "tan and hair colour in a bottle" girl in full make up arrives, until she pulled out a mouth guard. my team did their introductions (high school/college division 3/coaching 6 year olds- this may come in handy for me). our captain asked what positions we played; "ooh! ooh! defense!". then he asked "right? left? sweeper?" (?????). i am told where to stand, where to run to; "push up!" (does that mean run towards the opposite end of the pitch until my lungs are screaming, or come back?). the other girls understand their positions, boundaries, they are tackling the boys and doing headers. i did my first ever header, as in the ball hit my head as opposed to my head actively blocking and diverting the ball.
i believe i touched the ball alll of 10 times, i am going to need remedial instruction. however i have now acquired shin guards and knobbly shoes so i somewhat look the part. this is not how i remember playing football. i sincerely hope next week's opposition is crap, i need to build some confidence. i left my first game feeling sweaty, sore and rather like i was picked last for the team. now that i do remember from 20 years ago.