Twists and Terrapins

I'm watching Virginia and Maryland play basketball in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, with the Terps, obviously and oddly, in the Big Ten.

Even stranger than that, it took me till the second media timeout to remember to remember covering games at Maryland, and to feel the familiar pluck of my ink-stained heartstrings.

I've become more comfortable with the past tense. I think and speak with something approaching ease now: Ex-sportswriter. Ex-journo. The old me. My former life.

It was my choice to leave it, and it wasn’t. I thought it would come back to me. I thought it was who I was.

 So that leaves me needing a new definition, and I’m finding some words for that, too.

It seems I’m a person who can find laughter with co-workers and ease in routine in an office setting. It seems I can regularly get up at 5- or 6-something. I appear to be someone who enjoys driving a certified teenager to school as the sun rises above the ever-changing cloud banks that still hold such fascination for me, going on three years since I first marveled at them. I’m a listener then, or I try to be, mining bits of conversation between texts and musical selections to discern a shifting mood, a lingering worry, a new joy.

This me sits behind a desk most of the day but savors the midday sunshine. I partake in brief communion with the lizards of all shapes and sizes scuttling in and out of sight and appreciate the angle of the light through the razor arms of a palm tree.

It seems I’m a person who despises commuting, going the same places at the same time as everyone else. But it would appear I’m a person learning patience because I so often have no other choice.

As it happens, I’m a person who didn’t get much sleep last night and was tired at work all day. This was nothing unusual for my former self, but this version of me was up past midnight stirring the broth for the turkey soup, not lining up my next pool shot or getting the next pitcher.

Now, this me still had a tasty craft beer while watching hoops. But I did that after cleaning the kitchen and making a cup of Thera-Flu to help the teenager fight off a sore throat. I squeezed a little honey in to help with the grainy taste.

I’m a person who never quite knows what to say when people ask me if I miss it.

Yes. Now and always. In ways big and small.

But also no, more and more often.

Yes but no. Always but less.

It has hurt, shedding my skin and growing a new one. I think it’s a tougher, more flexible covering. It still feels odd, though.

Like Maryland in the Big Ten.