Yesterday, as one of the wedding activities, we played soccer. Except, it turns out there’s a pick-up soccer game every Saturday morning, so the game started out as a wedding activity — with 30 people wandering around the fields and players switching teams with abandon — and ended up as more of a soccer game — as most everyone else lost interest or stamina.
I used to play soccer. Pretty nearly constantly for 12 years as a kid. I probably hit my peak in skillz around age 13 or 14, when I was playing indoor winter soccer with the high school girls and select traveling team with my age group and a handful of rec games and tournaments and attending soccer camp over the summer. Then, I stopped. I didn’t go out for the high school team, deciding to do cross-country and track instead. And, even when I played rec AYSO soccer after that, I skipped practices or games based on my running schedule.
Since then, ten years ago, with the exception of one half-season of adult women’s rec league and six intramural games in college, including the one where my teeth got knocked in, I haven’t played.
So, yesterday, I wasn’t sure what I’d remember.
It turns out, I remember exactly HOW to play. I instinctively knew where to be and when to run towards the net and when to stay open up the side and where to intercept the ball before it got there. Twelve years of playing meant that, without thinking too hard, my body knew what to do. The only problem was, then, it didn’t have the skills to execute what it knew how to do. After I’d run to the right spot and grab the ball from some guy on the other team and turn to the open side and line up for a perfect pass to my teammate, I’d whiff or I’d kick it to the wrong person or I’d pass hella weak. I remembered what to do. I just didn’t remember how to do it.
Also, it turns out, I now fear getting my teeth knocked out and adding another concussion to my list and breaking a leg and, generally, getting hurt. It’s hard to play when you’ve learned to be scared. Some things it might be better to forget.