When I was 15, I had a pretty sweet gig going. I worked at the hockey rink, which was literally 5 minutes from my house. I skated to work. I worked as a scorekeeper, I worked as a referee, and I worked in the pro shop. When I wasn't working, I was playing hockey. I was on quite a few different teams, and I would spend all day at the rink, day in and day out.
I loved playing hockey. I had started maybe a year or more after my mom died. I used hockey as my outlet, as my refuge, as my escape. I had friends at the rink that I saw everyday, and I felt at home there.
And then I destroyed it.
I was working in the pro shop, and Bobby was hanging out there. One of the younger kids, a fat kid (ironic, I know) named Fitz, who was made fun of a lot, was getting dressed after his hockey game. When he went off somewhere, he left his hockey skates sitting there, out in the open. Bobby said, let's steal the wheels.
I've never really been good at social things, and at that time in my life, I was easily swayed by peer pressure. That's not an excuse, but simply an aside that may be insightful.
So, I agreed to steal the wheels off this kid's skates. We took the skates into the pro shop where I was working, and I took the wheels off, and we hid the wheels. I'm not sure if in the end we were going to steal the wheels outright, or if we were just going to hide them on the kid. But anyway, we hid the wheels.
As we were doing this, a voice inside my head, the rational, honorable voice - the voice that guided me with the ideas I was raised with - told me that what I was doing was wrong. I knew it was wrong, and there was no getting around it. I wasn't stupid, I wasn't tricked, I wasn't ignorant of my actions. But, even as I knew it was wrong, there was another voice, this one urging me to go along with Bobby. Saying that my friends wouldn't like me, and I wouldn't fit in, if I said no. And, unfortunately, this was the louder voice, this voice won.
So when Fitz returned and was looking for his skates, we were still in the process of hiding the wheels. Fitz ends up telling his mom, who pitches a fit (and rightly so) and Bobby and I end up getting in trouble. Now, to this day, I have no idea what Bobby said or did when they asked him what happened. I know that when they asked me, I told the truth. I remember the owners ended up calling my father, and telling him. And both Bobby and I were suspended from playing hockey or even going to the rink for 3 months or something like that.
Well, when I came home, my dad said he was proud of me for telling the truth. And that I would have to face the consequences - ie. not being allowed to goto the rink for 3 months or so. So I don't goto the rink for a while. But I hear that Bobby has gone back there, and nobody is stopping him from being there, so I guess the suspension is done with.
Anyway, I go back to the rink, and nothing is as it was. I was still allowed to play there, but I was fired from the pro shop and the other jobs. Everything in my sweet little world was done. Over. And I could never get it back.
I gradually played less and less hockey, until I stopped altogether. I haven't felt like part of something - team or otherwise, since then, and that feeling of not belonging has only increased with everything else that has happened in the following 14 years.
I was listening to Kenny Chesney in the car, and heard "A Lot of Things Different," and I got to thinking. There are many things I wish I did or didn't do, and this is one of the first ones I thought of.