How To Make Memories With 47,399 People

When I reflect on that moment, I have to admit it was one of the best of my short life.  It was so exhilarating, it is almost indescribable.  And unbelievable as it may sound, though it has almost been a year ago, rarely does a week pass without someone mentioning something about it to me or my daughter.

Heather, my daughter, is my youngest child and only girl.  At 28, she is slight of build, tall in stature and is as even-tempered as her father.  I am lucky as she and I pal around quite a bit together.  And oddly enough, the reason for being together on October 28th, 2011 was due to a very chance circumstance.  But it happened and we were.

The men in our lives were all left behind.  My son hadn’t been feeling well, and my spouse graciously agreed to stay home as caretaker.  He offered his spot to my daughter, and she smartly took it.  So we were off – together – on another adventure of a lifetime.

As happens in most families, she and I have actually shared many mother / daughter lifetime adventures – in all kinds of shapes and sizes from international travel to half marathons, from home building projects to weekends away.   But this event was different.

As we headed out – with all the amenities two people might need including food, clothes, cash, and cameras – my mind could hear a phrase often spoken by a dear aunt of mine who has just enough of a southern drawl to bring out the wisdom of such simple words:  “Nothing more important than making memories.”

Two hours later, we arrived at our destination.  We found a makeshift parking space, abandoned our car, and entered the thick of things.  Downtown traffic was at a standstill.   Banners were strung from every skyscraper and pump-me-up music was blaring on every corner.  Two gentlemen – sans shirts – with their chests painted bright red – strolled by us, singing a rather poor rendition of the national anthem.

Yet, because of the atmosphere, they were nothing shy of adorable – and for this occasion – very typical.  For at that moment, a total of 47,399 individuals were headed towards the gates of a previously empty stadium – each person intent on making their own memories.

Our seats were high-in-the-sky, in what folks might fondly call the nose-bleed section.   And looking out on the crowd, all we could see was a sea of red – as literally everyone had dressed in the team color for the occasion – (or as witnessed earlier, had painted their bodies accordingly).

The two women in front of us were wearing red wigs made of flashing LED lights.  A couple of rows in front of them sat a family who had brought along an assortment of hand-made posters and were waving them madly.

Before the first pitch was thrown, we had both been asked to take family photos for folks around us and had asked the folks around us to take our photo.  Fans were texting, tweeting, facebooking, and calling everyone who didn’t make it into the stadium.   It could only be described as orderly pandemonium.

Of course, not to be missed was the calm and subdued gentleman at the end of our row.

He happened to be visiting a friend who had an extra ticket.  He came along not knowing what to expect, and found all the frantic madness a little quizzical.  He was seemingly disengaged from the surrounding activity, and spent most of his time checking and re-checking his trusty blackberry . . .so we called him Blackberry Man . . .  really the only odd-duck on the pond.

But, as the game began and time began ticking forward, the excitement within the crowd escalated  – and it escalated exponentially. We stood – shoulder to shoulder – from the first crack of the bat to the last, sitting only during the momentary wee breaks between innings.  We shouted  – loud and long – creating an unrecoilable energy that was all-pervasive.  And we bonded – with the 47,399 people who came to the stadium with the same hopes and desires as the hometown athletes.

My daughter and I were  – in athletic speak – in the zone.  We were on our tiptoes, cheering, shouting, clapping, hugging, laughing. And everyone around us, except for Blackberry Man, was doing the same.  For all of us, it was a time of sheer fun and exhilaration. I was quite sure that the game’s outcome wouldn’t solve any great human mystery.  And I knew that days later, I would still be putting on my shoes one at a time. But, for that one moment, the world around us was in sync.

And I learned that anytime the world around us is in sync, it is truly unbelievable.

For today, I can still hear the collective screaming and I can still feel the collective dancing when the hometown team won. Fireworks blasted.  Confetti fell.  Lights flashed, and the music of champions played.  Strangers hugged each other, with even Blackberry Man faintly smiling.

And I can still  see my daughter’s eyes looking at me with such pure joy.

As we walked out the stadium, still shoulder to shoulder with those 47,399 people who were all still more than just a little exuberant, I knew that my daughter and I had made a great memory, a permanent one.

What I didn’t know is  how that particular memory would change my thinking.

I was once again – and in a big way –  reminded that it is possible for the entire world to be in sync.  Somehow, it is possible for all of us to be happy, for all of us to experience joy.  It might be difficult, but what is worthwhile isn’t usually easy.  All we have to do is wake up our collective sleeping giant and make a memory.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Confetti With Friends . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

What Do You Wear When You Work Out?

I am a workout nut. It’s hard to admit it, but it’s true.  My friends have kindly mentioned it, and even though I try my best to deny their characterizations of me as such, they are right.  It is true.  Each morning, I leave for work at 7:00am and spend the fifteen minute commute thinking about my post-work exercise plan.  During the spring, summer, and fall, I plot out my running route both in distance and time, and during the winter, I gear up for treadmill work or indoor activity at a local University’s field house.  I may tell folks that I believe working out is a chore, but in reality, I spend a great deal of time planning and participating in it. I like it.

Like any other workout nut, I have a variety of routines that I follow.  My family considers the routines to be a little quirky – and they probably are – but my workout nut pals all have their own quirky routines; thus, giving normalcy to what I do.  I dash home at 5:00pm, say hello to the folks in my house, change, and within no more than fifteen minutes dash out again. I rev up the IPOD, check my shoe strings, and hit the road . . . each day . . . every single day that I can.

I have come to terms with the realization that I may be a workout nut.  It was difficult to comprehend and internalize, but I’m okay with it.  But today, I was hit with another revelation – a new one – one that is much more difficult to accept than the workout nut moniker.

I am a workout nut . . . with a pathetic workout wardrobe.  Really, I am a pathetically clad workout nut.  My workout nut fashion sense is so pathetic that my loved ones have given up mentioning it to me.

My workout wardrobe isn’t swanky.  It isn’t groovy, with-it, or mod.  And it certainly isn’t hip, trendy, or fashion forward.  It isn’t flashy, flirty, or fun.  It isn’t pretty.  It isn’t any of those terms or any other term that would equate to workout stylish.

Rather, it is . . . more like . . . hmmm . . . let’s just say – utilitarian.

My workout fashion regime is simple: Shorts, shirt, shoes, socks – all in neutral, sweat-hiding colors: check.  Hair in a mandatory pony tail, workout glasses from the dollar store for treadmill reading: check.  Nearly broken, barely working ear buds threaded through the shoulder of my workout shirt to prevent me from losing them: check. A plain gray IPOD with a plain black case, and a green headband someone left at my house  to keep my eyes sweat-free: check.  With all this apparel, I think I am good to go out the door. Exciting activity, pathetic attire.

Well, yesterday, it was raining and my workout was moved to an inside venue.  There was a waiting line for the treadmill which meant that I had a moment to take a look around me. So I did.  And boy did I see a lot.

I saw fancy matching Under Armour everywhere and lots of Nike Dry Fit shirts that included tiny riveted holes made especially for threading ear buds.  I saw headbands with impressive logos and shorts with phone pockets.   I saw one person with what I would call a $9.99 two for one ShamWOW chamois; however, I learned that the proper name for it was the Trekkings Ultra Fast Dry towel.  The user had it hung around the neck to keep perspiration to a minimum.  No doubt it cost a pretty penny. And it looked impressive.

Bikers in St. Louis. No pathetic workout clothes here.

In the shoe line-up, there were pairs with toes, pairs that kept track of miles logged, pairs that were incredibly light, and pairs that were specifically for running indoors on treadmills.  Absolutely everyone had on designer socks with several of those folks explaining their sock choices to me. One person was wearing a workout hat and a couple folks were sporting workout gloves. My favorite was an individual who had perfectly matched everything head to toe.

Still there was me:  A peach colored shirt, black workout pants that had shrunk and were just a tad too short, the same all purpose tennis shoes that I had last year, the green headband, dollar store glasses, and the broken ear buds threaded through the sleeve.  I had been in a little rush at home and accidently was wearing a pair of mismatched socks, both I might add were in the Nike category, which is a little better in some way.  All in all, it was the same pathetic workout wardrobe that I have been wearing for years.  Workout nut / pathetic clothes.

Moments later, there was an available treadmill for me.  I hopped on, cranked up my IPOD, started my workout, and concentrated on forgetting about physical fitness fashion faux pas and the implications.  Perhaps I was making much ado about nothing.  After all, the purpose of working out is to workout.  There are no red carpets or runways to navigate. In some ways it makes more sense to sweat in ridiculous haphazard clothes than it does to do so in designer duds.  And I have never seen fitness paparazzi in my neck of the woods. Still I had to face my workout wardrobe and acknowledge that I was deep into the pathetic category.

I have two choices.  I can go on a quest to find and purchase better workout apparel.  It definitely isn’t hard: I can order clothing from the comfort of my living room.  There are a zillion of online venues at my fingertips, and a lot of them have very impressive selections!   Or, I can continue to be the same workout nut with the same pathetic workout wardrobe that I have grown to be over the last couple of decades.  There is something to be said for ignoring common social conventions and throwing all caution to the wind in this area.  It does feel a little exhilarating to be in the zone where something just doesn’t matter.

Either way, by the end of this year, I have made it one of my resolutions to make a decision in this area.  A December 2012 update – with photo – will follow.