Guess there’s a lot of the letter “H” in my life (check the prior post’s title too!). What is it about these two things that intrigue me so?

My townhouse could use some interior help. I love the floorplan and spaciousness, but it’s showing its age. Let’s face it – no one is touting the architecture and fixture styles of the late 1970s/early 1980s as retro chic these days and I don’t see that happening any time soon. I’ve done a fair amount of updating in here – thankfully the brown ceiling fan with orange-tinted bulbs and the mustard yellow, vinyl-backed drapes are far, far, FAR in the rear view mirror – but the project list on the fridge remains long. Hmmm…that might be fodder for a future post.

I had a rep from a custom closet company come by and design some ideas to fix these tired, old closets. She took a look inside one of them (Danger spare bedroom! Messy!) and exclaimed, “hockey and handbags!” We laughed. Yes, the jerseys and hockey socks happily co-exist with the satchels, shoulder bags and clutches, all nicely wrapped in their dustbags. Now, if only there was a way to organize them! Small piles on the closet floor are almost criminal given my collection. Cringe!

Hockey plopped into my life on a total random whim a few years ago at the relatively late age of 36. Isn’t it funny how completely unrelated chains of events meld together, take on a life of their own and crescendo into something completely unexpected? That’s exactly what happened here.

The summer of 2003 was a hot one! We had very little rain and the sun was relentless in the high 80s and 90s for over two months straight (that’s unusual in this part of the country; we’re known to be whiney at any temperature extremes). I’d just moved to this neighborhood a few months prior and decided to explore it on foot. The problem? My house is at the bottom of a steep, lung-crushing hill. I couldn’t walk up that hill without stopping to catch my breath several times. Dangit, I said to myself…I’m too young to be this out of shape!

So, I vowed to battle that hill each and every day, hot weather and all, and to check out different streets up on top. I met tons of neighbors and dogs too. I admired yardwork (or, not). Followed the progress of a new subdivision under construction. Flirted with the firemen! I also discovered several sneaky cul de sacs, where it isn’t clear it’s a dead end until turning the corner and then – oh man, time to turn around! After driving my typical walking route I realized I was clocking a good 5 miles a day…and 7 or 8 miles on the weekends!

Over the course of all that walking, I dropped 35 lbs in about 5 months and got my lungs back in shape. Bonus! Now, I was wondering what I would do to maintain it. The weather was starting to turn, and walking when it was raining or getting dark earlier was just not in the cards for me. I broke down and joined the local gym! Say goodbye to free, outdoor exercise!

Meanwhile, the building I was working in was a continual revolving door of groups moving in and out over the years. I as a vendor to this company worked in this particular building and office just because we had the space allocated to us; I didn’t work directly with anyone located physically near me. So, I’d always make a point to walk up and down the hall and introduce myself whenever a new group moved in…I am no shrinking violet!

People’s reactions were all over the spectrum. Some were quite startled, miffed and taken aback that *gasp* someone would come up and say hello and welcome to the building, and others were just ehhh, indifferent about it – what I call a “straight line face.”

But one day a rather jovial crew moved in – complete chatterboxes! And after I introduced myself? I ended up talking to a few of them for a hour! Turns out they had moved here from out of state due to a company acquisition and were all excited about learning their new whereabouts, things to do, the whole works. What did they all have in common? They loved hockey.

Posters went up on the walls, along with calendars, computer screen savers and wall paper. Baseball hats and player figurines. Wow! One of the women showed me a few pictures of a league she played in back in her hometown and talked about how much she missed it.

One day she approached me and told me about an adult beginner hockey clinic she wanted to join, but didn’t want to do it alone. “It’s a little expensive,” she explained, “…but I have some extra gear you can borrow.”

I smiled and said YES without hesitation. Never mind that the last time I was on ice skates was probably age 10, or that my last attempt at team sports was the 100m and 200m dashes in junior high track and field. I think the last time I ever did anything resembling hockey was some floor hockey in high school gym class. Believe me, taking up hockey was the absolute last thing on my mind.

6 years later, I’ve never looked back. And I can’t imagine not having hockey in my life. I love the teamwork and competition. Pushing myself physically and mentally. The rush of cold air in the lungs when entering the rink. Locker room banter. I love my teammates like brothers (yes this is a co-ed league). I love that I play alright some days but some days I suck and it’s OK either way. The late nights and weird hours…and the exercise and stress relief. And I’ve met some incredibly cool people too – many are friends off the ice as well.

So thanks goes to D and that life-altering question, “…do you want to do this hockey clinic with me?” YES. The girl’s gotta skate! Who knew?