I was eight years old when I first felt the sweet sting of cupid's arrow. Her name was Kelsey and her sun-kissed blond hair and soft blue eyes were so elegant that they made angel's weep and dove's spontaneously combust. Suffice to say, ...
I was eight years old when I first felt the sweet sting of cupid's arrow. Her name was Kelsey and her sun-kissed blond hair and soft blue eyes were so elegant that they made angel's weep and dove's spontaneously combust. Suffice to say, even in the third grade she was way out of my league.
We were in the same homeroom, not because we shared the same age but because my parents -- under the encouragement of my teachers -- thought it would be best for my development if I joined the advanced courses of those older than me.
The transition was neither smooth, nor enjoyable. There was nothing more damaging to my psyche than having to leave my friends who were occupying their time making collages, singing songs and playing games for my personal higher learning. I loathed agreeing with the decision, but as a subordinate, assumed that falling in line was the best recourse to take.
The adjustments I had to make became more difficult with each passing day. Not in course material -- that was the easy part -- but rather in social networking. In a class full of a dozen of your peers who feel like you're infringing on their turf, I faced a regiment of constant bullying. Words. Fists. Humiliation. It was all just part of the daily routine. Luckily, I still had a small cluster of friends now a grade lower which kept me optimistic that better times lay ahead.
That entire year, I would spring out of bed bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, eager to sit next to Kelsey in class. When she finally did find out that I had a school-yard crush on her, she distanced herself. I can't blame her, it likely would have been social suicide for a girl like her to be seen eating lunch a geek/loser/dweeb/etc. like me.
Before the age of ten I was already self-loathing.
Growing up, I always loved the sport of hockey. It never mattered who was playing -- though I was partial to the Winnipeg Jets at the time -- or what the score in the game was. Every Saturday night my dad and I would convene in the basement of our country bungalow home to entrench ourselves in its ultimate whimsy. My sisters already asleep and my mom working weekend night-shifts so she could be around to raise us during the week, Saturday's became a ritualistic event. Bowl of popcorn and soda's in hand, dad and I would trudge downstairs and spend four hours bonding around the game we loved. I never told him, but I think he knew he was my best friend.
The Jets' packed up shop in 1996 and I became a tad bit jaded towards the sport. No longer did hockey appeal to me in quite the same way. Players didn't seem as fast, or as strong, or as skilled. The whole thing just seemed blasé.
That was before I met the second love of my life; the Washington Capitals.
For reasons unbeknownst to even me, I was a Joé Juneau fan as a kid. I couldn't be bothered by collecting the hockey cards of Gretzky, Lemieux, Roenick, or Jagr; if it wasn't Joé Juneau (or Teemu Selanne), I couldn't be bothered with it.
The spring of 1998 was as exciting a time as any for a Capital fan as they made their trek towards the Stanley Cup Finals. Living in small town Manitoba meant I wasn't privy to cable TV or an Internet connection, meaning that it was difficult to religiously follow any NHL team not named the Toronto Maple Leafs or Montreal Canadiens. But those playoffs changed things. I still vividly remember being sucked into a second round game between the Caps and Ottawa Senators and seeing names I never thought I'd see on the same roster flash across the screen: Juneau, Bondra, Oates, Bellows, Hunter, Tikkanen, Miller, Berube, Housley, Johansson.
I was in love... again.
That Capitals team took me on a wild ride as I travelled through the abyss of personal uncertainty. My parents planned to move our family to the city where I would be forced to make new friends and form new relationships heading into junior high.
Unnerved, those playoffs kept me sound. Juneau banging home the overtime winner that sent
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