Jana: Throughout my childhood and into my adolescence, I played soccer. I didn’t LIKE soccer (in fact, it made me VERY nervous and upset), but I did play it, every year: every fall, every spring, and lots of winters. I’ve spent a fair amount of time in my adulthood trying to figure out why, the fuck, I kept playing, if I hated it so much, and all I can come up with is that a) I really wanted to be like my sister, and b) I really don’t like change. I’m a routine kinda girl! In the fall, I played soccer, because when I was eight I followed in my sister’s cleated footsteps and signed up for soccer clinic, and then it was just accepted in my mind as a perennial part of my life.
Me on the soccer field, looking a little angry and a little scared. Look closely for a glimpse at my hair horns (you’ll also want to note the receding hairline, caused by my obsessive need to pull the ponytail as tight as possible).
However, although I deeply hated my own soccer team (note: to any former teammates who may stumble upon this, it was entirely because I was such a weirdo. You were all really nice to me even though I was so weird, so thanks! Go Waves, and all of that! – yes, our team was called the Waves. What?), I remained genuinely invested in the soccer career of my sister. Starting out as a Purple People Eater, her star rose quickly, and she made varsity as a FRESHMAN. That’s unheard of, people. I was beyond proud.
One year, her indoor soccer team had a tournament. Now, indoor soccer doesn’t really matter, but I was a big fan (again, not of PLAYING it – I hated that too, but did it religiously). The tournament at hand was on a Sunday, and consisted of many games in a row, with teams being eliminated as they went. It was a lot like the Olympics, if the Olympics were held in a really depressing indoor sports facility in Burlington, MA, that also hosted birthday parties.
But what better did I have to do with my Sunday? I’ll tell ya: nothin. I was pumped. I went, I stayed all day, I have a weird feeling that I was wearing purple pants of some kind. And my sister’s team was KILLIN IT! They kept winning and winning, and I was overjoyed.
But then, in the final game, things seemed off. The other team was coming off of an hour’s rest, and my sister’s team had played straight through. The other team had lots of subs, and ours only had one or two, or something. The ref made bad calls! I don’t know. Honestly, I do not know nor can I identify with the version of myself that was really invested in this. But invested I was. So invested, in fact, that when they eventually lost the game I was very worked up; I’m sure my hair was frizzing out even more than usual and my cheeks were red. I felt a familiar rage boil inside me, and I knew I had to let it out.
Here is how I chose to let it out: I walked to the bathroom. The bathroom was a rectangular space, and on one end of the room hung a full-length mirror, presumably for young athletes to admire themselves fully pre- and post-games. Without a second thought, I bolted to the far end of the room, got a running start past the sinks, and did a FLYING KICK into the mirror.
Here is what happened next: THE MIRROR BROKE. OBVIOUSLY it broke. It cracked down the middle. Why did I think that it might NOT break? Why did I not consider the cold, hard, fact that mirrors break when you kick them, let alone RUN at them and then kick them? But still! I saw the mirror crack and it destroyed me in an instant. I felt that flash of fear that actually feels like your heart has cracked. What had I done? I was overcome with guilt. I was crying. I was deeply, deeply ashamed.
I couldn’t face anyone right away. I picture myself behaving like someone in a movie who has just shot someone else – alone, shaking my head a little, pacing up and down the empty bathroom. I probably also shook my hands out, like really close to my chest, like an “ahhh what just happened” shake. Once I’d fretted enough, I tried to brush the tears off of my face, hung my head, and found my mom. Then I whispered to her what had happened, in between gulped sobs. Being reasonable, she was confused, but she was just like…. ok, let’s go. This is a large, asshole facility. They can fix their mirror. I couldn’t believe her nonchalance! So we left, while I cried. I continued to feel guilty about the mirror for years to come, until gradually I stopped feeling guilty and started just feeling like… why’d you do that, Jana?