I spent the last few summers of my teens hanging out with Chief Advisor in a crappy little apartment in the only cool part of Edmonton, Alberta. I didn’t really know he was Chief Advisor yet; he was pretty much just my dad, and those were sad times for him. I think he wasn’t quite sure yet that the divorce had been the right thing to do. He hadn’t met his now-wife, and he probably hadn’t come to terms with the “it takes two” aspect of packing it in on a marriage – i.e. I think he blamed himself in those days. We went to figure-drawing classes together, hung out with his artist friends, and counted down the days before the Edmonton Folk Music Festival, at which he’d got me a pretty awesome gig on the Backstage security crew. And that’s where I had my first girl-crush … not backstage, but at the Folk Fest. It wasn’t an “I want to be with you” sort of crush, but more of an “I want to BE you” one. These two gals were exactly my age, but they seemed light-years ahead of me in terms of confidence, personal style, and adolescent success. They were creative, self-assured, had had real boyfriends, and they played Rugby.
I didn’t know what rugby was, except they said it was “like football but without all the padding”. At this point, and until fairly recently, team sports frightened me more than just about anything. But I secretly wished I had the confidence to play this particular sport, which was obviously so not feminine, totally empowering, and it seemed to me, incredibly sexy. I fantasized about playing rugby the same way I still fantasize about winning an unavoidable fistfight – coming out on top because of pure raw physical force, rather than nerdy intelligence and carefully chosen words.
So, a couple years ago, when I had about 50 pounds of comfortable-in-a-relationship-and-just-had-a-baby weight to get rid of, and I needed to set myself a seemingly impossible goal, I decided that I would learn to play rugby. I spent about three months counting calories and working my way up from a walk to a jog, so that I would feel comfortable “training” with others. I put out a call for other moms interested in learning to play, and found a coach interested in teaching us. The moms’ team didn’t last too long, because of course, mothers have lots of responsibilities pulling them in various directions and aren’t the most “dedicated” teammates. But, it was enough to get me and a mom-friend onto a real team, and in October 2009, I played my first and only game of rugby – as a #4 lock for the Rogues RFC 2nd division women’s team. And I think, I pretty much kicked butt, considering it was my first game. I even bruised my ribs, which kept me off the pitch for long enough that I haven’t ever gotten back on.
But that’s okay. It’s one more thing to check off my to-do list. I accomplished what I would have told you was impossible; I had fun, made leaps and bounds in my self-confidence, and was more fit for a few months than I’ve ever been in my life. Now, I’m anxiously awaiting access to the campus gym and hoping they’ll have a good beginner boxing class.