My homebody ways started young. I didn’t mind going to the Bahamas or to Washington D.C, but for most of my young life, I stuck close to home. Yes, I went on overnight trips to skate in Nationals with Waltham, but other than that my family didn’t take many trips. When my parents shipped me off to camp, that was an experience that backfired. When my parents came to visit, they had to pry me out of the car so they could go home. I still can’t eat frozen fish sticks without thinking about being sick to my stomach after intense crying. My one and only time I experienced home sickness.
When my time came to be nudged out of the nest, it didn’t take much. My dad gave me a four hundred mile radius. This distance would keep me from coming home very often, but it was close enough where I could return easily.
Ithaca College was exactly four hundred miles away from Weston, Massachusetts.. And since the nest was sold, I didn’t return very often. There was a short period of time where I tried to make my home at my dad’s house in Wayland, but it never became more than a perch for me to light upon until I figured out which direction I needed to take off for.
Ithaca may not have been a place for me to flex my academic muscles, but I met some incredible people along the way. Even during my rockiest times, there was always someone to help hold me up.
If I were able to have a conversation with my 18-year-old self, the one packed my bags for Ithaca College, I wouldn’t have been able to imagine what I would experience just in a year and a half’s time. Hockey and classes were the only things on my mind. I didn’t spend any time thinking about how I would cope with two roommates instead of the typically one. That was a particular good year for incoming freshman, but by the next semester, the numbers had dwindled down. I was barely holding onto my enrollment at that time and knew things had to change.
If I were to think of the one thing that I’m most grateful for in my Ithaca College experience, I’d have to say the ability to leave my old skin behind. I wasn’t going to school with people who had known me since I was five, the people that were never going to become my friends for who knows what reason. Going to a place where not a soul knew me gave me a chance to reinvent who I wanted to be.
I will be the first to admit that I was trying on so many different personas that I lost myself. There was the athlete. The struggling student. Those personas were my ball back outfits I could run back to as I experienced new characteristics. Once I let go of being shy, I was able to work on friendships.
As my freshman year started to ride into the sunset and call an end, I learned amazing lessons. Lessons that continue to pay dividends year after year. The first has to do with life’s unpredictability. Good, Bad, and all of the in between happen.
I didn’t know much about the Ithaca Bomber women’s hockey team. I didn’t mind that the team wasn’t very good. I didn’t even mind the ludicrous ice time we had at Cornell University. Skating on an open rink in the middle of the night was conducive to my getting frost bite on my big toe.
Maybe if the team had been more competitive, Candis Russell wouldn’t have been able to play on the team. I don’t think she had skated much. Like a gazelle on skates. I wish I had gotten some pictures. Put a gazelle on grass, and she ran circles around me.
In return for my helping Candy out on the ice, she offered to teach me how to play lacrosse. She promised that I didn’t have to wear a skirt or anything that slightly resembled a skirt. Since I loved being a soccer goalie, I had no reason to turn down being a lacrosse goalie. Got me out of wearing the uniform.
I’m reading a journal I wrote May 11, 1979. In so many ways, my world was crashing down all around me. Saying goodbye to Candis and the rest of the graduate students was tearing my heart apart. Little did I know that Mrs. Russell Parry would come back into my life. Maybe I ought to steal a picture from her Facebook.
So many years have passed since I played lacrosse for Candis. She had to have known that I would have walked on fire for her, but in so many ways she saved me from myself. If she had known what I had been doing to my body, I’m sure we would have had a good talk. The running joke was whenever some one did something stupid, her main comments had something to do with being on drugs or being a lunch pail.
Considering my right leg was a mess and needed to be drained on a regular basis, I was on drugs, some not prescribed and some not. I had so many questions and so clueless that it would be such a long road to recovery after tearing the majority of the knee ligaments. I wasn’t ready to let go of being an athlete and a physical education major.
Being able to look at my nineteen-year-old self thirty-eight years later is something that not too many people can do. I thank myself for taking the time and will remind me to keep writing to my future self.