Driving down Interstate-5 from Federal Way, the traffic is slightly horrendous for a Saturday afternoon.
The weather is modest for a mid-November – slight drizzle, with enough of a wind to move you around if you hit the puddles just right on the road. The sun is trying to poke through the grey clouds, but can’t find an opening. You can make a football running back analogy there, but I’ll just keep on driving.
Up early, by the time I’m on the road again, I’ve been up for nine hours and working for seven. The schedule for the day has just enough room for error, but not for criticism. Morning and mid-afternoon at the state swim meet, then hit the road nearly an hour south for a state girls soccer match and a football game from mid-afternoon to late night. Parents of the girls soccer team I’m covering has already delivered several “you don’t care about our team nor our school” e-mails, while some of the swim parents are celebrating and thank me/us via e-mail.
A bottleneck near the capitol slows the proceedings, just enough to make my arrival at the soccer match a near-miss. I would pull into the parking lot, with a Subway sandwich in hand and a computer bag slung over my shoulder, with just five minutes left in the match. I see just enough to know that the parents of the team may be secretly wishing I didn’t cover it. A 1-0 loss.
Soccer coach was downtrotten, but realistic. A weekly paper colleague asks most of the questions, while I add one or two to flesh out some points. My colleague still needs a lot of work on asking the right questions. Your impressions aren’t questions, even if you add, “what did you see?” at the end of them.
I write up the soccer match first, no byline, but more than what a call-in would have gathered. Two parents who tape the games walk by me without a word. Normally, they’re talkative, joyous and glad to see you. I’ll take it they’re disappointed that their daughter’s teams are out of the postseasons. No point interjecting my ego there.
The swimming story – easy, if you are mentally prepared and in the moment. I zoned out several times and missed a few things. It took more than 90 minutes to write it up, an eternity on deadline. And with a state football game ahead of me, I was in trouble. Enter Sugar Free Red Bulls, two of them in my car for an emergency – the big cans, too. OK, they were warm, but that just made them easier to chug down.
Click, click, click. The story is done, sent and delivered. I have enough time to joke with the radio guys and with some of the workers in the press box. I end up moving into another booth to allow the football team coaches a better sightline. I’m slightly mad, but only because I had to pick everything up and move it.
The football game was smooth, a defensive battle with just one signature point to build the story around. Not much to think about, just write it and go home. Went to Denny’s to sit down and write, with my photographer working on his photos. I ate a third of the fries he ordered and drank about six cups of decaf coffee. At 11 p.m., there’s no point adding to the Red Bull-induced charge that is still flowing.
Made it home in time to pour a beer, have a bite to eat and fall asleep watching a replay of a rugby match. After 18 hours and 286 miles, sleep was welcome. One state playoff Saturday down, three more to go.
Initially, I had a second part of this, a bit of a personal diatribe on how things have been going in a certain spot in my relationship with my wife.
However, the one thing that I told myself is that some things are not meant for public consumption, even if it is just a small audience. It isn’t fear of what anyone is going to say. It is a realization that there are things I have to take care of myself.
Since Labor Day weekend, I’ve been angry. I’m just now starting to come out of it, regaining my ability to be in the moment than just wrapped in a cocoon of anger and mistrust. Time is my enemy and my guide right now.
It just makes me realize that I can’t sit back and wait for the right moment anymore. I learned that 2 1/2 years can go by quickly and you lose it “just like that.” I’ll never regain that time, but I’m going to make up for it as much as I can.
Let’s leave it at that and see where this goes.