The Aches and Pains of Nostalgia
One of those things that always catches me off guard is how fast time passes. College is a time where many people take new chances. In my case, joining rugby. You end up being the rookie and new guy again. You learn and go through a lot like having to pay dues, take out and wash muddy gear, take the ribbing from the vets on the team, anxiously introducing yourself to alumni when they come around and patiently counting the days until you’re someone on the team instead of the newbie wearing a white shirt.
Showing up to a rugby practice having no idea what I was getting into would turn out to be one of the best decisions I have ever made. I didn’t stay in touch with most people from high school. Everyone I talked to just fell out of touch and that was life. We still follow each other on social media and I wish them well. In contrast, when I joined rugby in college, I found a group of people, who about five years post-college still interact almost daily in a group chat. We were so attached at the hip in college that if we showed up to practice with someone from the crew missing, someone else in the group could always account for where they may be. We became known as one entity. We went everywhere together, and I wouldn’t trade that for anything.
During senior year, our team made it to nationals through a combination of happenstance, the skin of our teeth and one team dropping out due to lack of school funding. We only had a week's notice to raise the funds and convince the school to let this ragtag club team drive to Nebraska. We would have to miss class and explain to our parents why on about four days of notice we would be driving halfway across the country instead of attending lectures. There were some players whose parents couldn’t back them missing class. With my parents, there was a little bit of parental concern about driving that much during a small amount of time but was quickly followed by my dad saying something he would continue to say to me for years to come, “Do it while you’re young and you still can.”
That Friday morning our crew packed about 24 girls into three minivans and drove to Nebraska. We packed the same amount of girls into a two bedroom house — on air mattresses, on the kitchen floor and in the basement, too excited to actually sleep anyway. We came home with a placement of 3rd in the region and 10th in the nation.
As we graduated and moved on in the world, we finally reached that far away experience we never thought would come, being alumni instead of active players on the team. It was a hard and wild adjustment and now we make the trek each year to see the team and catch up with each other.
Last weekend, wtihin the span of 82 hours, we spent 26 hours driving, two nights out with our friends acting like we were still 21 and in college without a care in the world, and reminiscing on being young when everything didn’t hurt. We spent one morning at a BBQ and two hours helping the current team learn scrums, plays, and all of our favorite rugby things. We learned their strengths and what they needed to work on and truly got to enjoy seeing how the team looks now. They are a powerful team with room to grow. It reminded me a lot of the team my rookie semester. It also made me feel incredibly old and very much achy.
Traveling back to the real world Sunday night, arriving home at 5am just to have to wake up at 7am and be to work by 9am for a Monday meeting doubled down on that feeling of old age. Instead of that younger feeling that I used to be able to rally after long days like that, I felt like I could nap. Again, I had that call from my parents where they told me we were crazy for making such a quick turn around and I reminded them of that thing they told me that probably haunts them to this day. “Do it while you’re young and while you still can.”