My heart pounds as bile rises in the back of my throat. I try to calm down by telling myself I do this every night, tonight is exactly the same as last night and the night before that.
Focusing away negative thoughts, I tug the laces again and again until they are tight. I spend a full 10 minutes on the effort. I roll the clear tape over my socks, making a big X from my ankle to my knee. I pull on my helmet, fastening the straps, and yank the gloves over my fingers.
I breathe slowly a few times, fighting the rising panic. I walk down the hallway and through the swinging double doors.
I am hit immediately by the cold, frozen air. It smells like rubber, sweat, and old gym bags. For some reason I love that smell. It is what finally puts a smile on my face.
Pucks crack loudly off sticks and echo as they slam the boards. Sharpened blades dig into the ice, making a barely audible swish.
I enter the rink and all of a sudden, I am the same as everyone else. I finally relax. As we line up and run drill after drill, I know I am doing what I need to be doing, whether anyone else likes it or not.
This post was written in response to this week's RemembeRED post from Write on Edge. In “On Writing” Stephen King wrote, “The scariest moment is always just before you start. After that, things can only get better.” Write a memoir post – first-person and true – inspired by that statement. Word limit is 300.
I knew I had to write about hockey again because I recently ran into my old hockey coach as well as the teammate who broke my heart. You can read about that here.