I recently joined an ultimate frisbee team. My intentions for joining the team were to meet new people, to have some fun and to give my competitive nature a healthy outlet. What I have ended up getting from it was a brutal realization: I am old.
Let me digress a bit. When I was in high school I would play ultimate frisbee frequently and when I was in college I would drink heavily. In high school my muscles would never be soar and in college my hangovers were never severe. This weekend, however, was a brutal wake-up call on both accounts.
I had three ultimate frisbee games on Saturday and two games on Sunday. After the games on Saturday my team and I went out for dinner. Dinner turned into drinks and drinks turned into more drinks. Since there is no last call in South Korea, I wasn’t in bed until well after 4am (4am was the last time I remember checking my watch, but I was still at the bar at the time and not ready to go home yet). I knew that I would regret it come morning but I did not realise how much I would regret it. My first game on Sunday was at 12:30, so I got a reasonable amount of “sleep”. Still, I wanted to die when I woke up.
The next morning I felt like a squirrel and a rat had been playing hide and seek in my brain. Digging and hiding and tearing my brain matter to shreds. My stomach wasn’t much better and to make matters worse my legs were so stiff from Saturday’s games that I could barely get myself out of bed. The thought of getting up to go chase a frisbee around a dirty park beside a dirty river wasn’t too becoming. Unfortunately I’m not the kind of person that just doesn’t show up when I’ve told people I’ll be there. And I’m also too proud to call the people I was out with the night before and tell them that I’m too hung over to show up.
So I started rehearsing my theory of hangovers to myself, everyone take notes. Laying in bed all day is the WORST thing you can do. The best thing to do is to have some sort of alcoholic beverage, my personal favorite is a bloody mary, but I know people who prefer the mimosa or the screwdriver. However, if you have some sort of physical activity to do that day, starting off with a drink is not the best idea. Do not fear, in my opinion physical activities are a close second for curing the pain. In my experience, skiing, kayaking, rafting, water skiing, hiking and going to the gym have all been good cures for being hung over. I think that getting exercise makes you sweat out the booze and forces you to re-hydrate. At least this is the reasoning I used to motivate myself into dragging my haggard behind to the field where I chased a frisbee around a dirty park beside a dirty river for the next two hours.
So here I am, a day later and in incredible pain. I still feel hung over, now 40 hours since my last drink. Both of my ankles crack every time I take a step and my knees barely bend at all. Have I mentioned that I go to the gym 4 times a week and that I’m only 26 years old? How did this happen?
I used to think I would be able to continue the mindless abuse of my body well into my thirties before I would start feeling like this. This weekend taught me that I was wrong and somehow this realisation depresses me. I’m a bit stumped by this depression. Not by the fact that I can’t physically compete the way I used to. My intense competitive nature easily explains that sadness. But not being able to party like I used to? I didn’t know that I couldn’t still party like that because I don’t like to party like that anymore. Yet still, the fact that I’m not capable of doing it somehow makes me feel inadequate. Inadequate to whom? This is the real kicker. I feel inadequate to myself! What the. . ?
You might as well ship me off to the old folks home. I’m not even making sense to myself anymore. Why should I feel like less of a man now that I can’t do something that I don’t even want to do? And why do my legs feel like two blocks of wood?
After the games two of my friends and I were on the same train heading home when I dropped the bomb. “I feel like I’m getting old.” My two friends, one also 26 and the other 24, were quick to agree. The ride home turned into a somber one. A weekend that was supposed to be highlighted with 5 fun games of frisbee with friends ended up being highlighted by such sentences as, “I can’t have coffee after noon, I’ll be up all night,” and “I remember listening to Soundgarden and Rage Against the Machine. Now it seems like Audioslave was a while ago.” and “I can’t believe ‘Fresh Prince’ is on Nick at Nite!” and “Since when was Pearl Jam classic rock?”
I think the main thing here is that a metaphorical (cliché as it may be) page has turned in my life. Enough of the pages have turned that this weekend I finally realized that I have started a new chapter entirely. I do look forward to the new chapter, though. I’ll get married in December, I’ll move to the city that raised me, I’ll start a family. All good things. But, of course, there’s also the flip side. My legs will continue to feel more and more petrified. My hair will continue to thin out. And I’m sure I will have the occasional lapse in judgement and stay out way too late and remember the next morning that, as Danny Glover said in ‘Lethal Weapon’, “I’m too old for this . . .”
But, hey! Pretty soon I can be that crazy old guy who can get away with anything because crazy old guys can get away with anything!