Back in time

I seem to have turned back the clock this fall to 1988, 1993, 1996...It started with a fun trip to see my best friend since junior high (aka middle school, that alone dates me!) and her family in their new home on the East Coast. We decided a trip centered around a concert would be a good excuse to pick a date - and it just so happened that our favorite band OF ALL TIME was touring....what luck!

I had high expectations for a fun weekend in NYC with Ryan and seeing my friends, but I was somewhat indifferent about the concert. I knew it would be fun because we were all going together, but I hadn't seen this band in concert since 1993 and 1994 (scratch that, in full concert since 1994. I saw them in 2006 and they cancelled the show after 4 disappointing songs..I was crushed.). And let's face it, they are getting up there in age - Dave and Martin are 51 and 52. As a loyal fan, I was looking forward to the show, but I didn't have high hopes. 

I was completely surprised. They were just as energizing and dynamic live as I remembered them - maybe even better. I became a devotee all over again.  

There are some bands that just come alive on stage and Depeche Mode is one of them. Dave Gahan has to be one of the best at working the crowd...if you haven't seen them live, you will have to take my word for it.

My parents used to worry about me and this music and the strange looking men staring out from the almost life size poster on my bedroom wall as a teenager. Admittedly, some of the songs are a bit dark. But some of them are really fun and upbeat, too. The feel of the music always spoke to me more than the words. And although Dave has lived at least nine lives, he still seems to love what he does. It is amazing to watch.

For one night, we were 16 again, singing our hearts out and dancing like no one was watching (except our poor unprepared spouses!). And we were 20 years old again, driving from Kentucky and Kansas to meet in St. Louis and see our favorite band - driving the long road back home the same night as only 20 year-olds can do. 

Sometimes you can go back in time and find your memory holds true. What joy, relief even, to discover the present matches your expectation of the memory. You can rewind the music and hear it sound reassuringly the same. The same, but better. And you can discover that you, at 40, are the same person you were at 20. The same, but better.

I went back to 1988-89 for a reunion of our high school girls' Back to Back State Championship Basketball teams. I actually took to the old court and played once again with teammates I hadn't seen in 25 years. It was surreal. And better than I imagined it would be - we had so much fun celebrating the wins, reliving the memories, recounting the highs and lows. Charlie and Izzy yelled "Go Mom!" from the stands and gave me high fives down on the court. This world  - the court and the personalities it contained - is a part of me that I had forgotten.

The experience transported me immediately back to my 16 year-old self (again), living with the intense focus of improving in practice every day, of learning and striving for excellence. It was a time in my life when the measure of success at the end of the day hinged on getting the ball in bounds, and on making critical free throws so the whole team didn't have to run at the end of practice. I was reminded of the mixed tapes that Susan would make for me before a big game - always including Depeche Mode, of course. Mixed tapes!

There were many tears of frustration surrounding those years. The resounding feeling that surfaced during the reunion was that I never quite measured up. I was never as good as the team needed me to be.

But then there's this - I played with All-Americans and future Division I athletes; I had one of the best coaches a high school student (or parent) could ever hope for; I learned just how hard you have to work to be successful in life. 

I didn't have much talent, but I know I worked as hard as I mentally and physically could. I left it all on the court. And the court, my teammates, and my demanding coach left an imprint on me - shaped my will and desire, and dictated how I respond to adversity in my life today. We are a sum of our experiences and our interactions. 

Ryndell and I were co-captains our Senior year. Coach left after we graduated and has been coaching boys ever since. Because boys don't cry.

And finally, a few weekends ago I went back to 1996 and my rowing days at KU. Through rowing, I erased the basketball demons and finally felt like I measured up. By all intents and purposes, I am not built to be a rower (nor a basketball player, for that matter). The rowers on the team today stand a full foot taller than me. I wouldn't be able to compete with them if I were a college student now.

But my timing was just right almost 20 years ago. I put in three years when the team was a club sport and did all our own fundraising, sleeping on gym floors if it meant we had the opportunity to race. Then by some miracle (aka Title IX) we were granted Varsity status and I was a co-captain on the first NCAA-sponsored KU Women's Rowing Team. This time, I laid it all out on the water instead of the court.

I loved every minute of the early morning rows on the water, the off-season stair workouts at the stadium, erg workouts in Allen Field House. I was in my element and it was as close to a perfect year as I can imagine. Rowing, reading Shakespeare and Flannery O'Conner, and pushing my body to the limit. I wouldn't trade that year of my life for anything.

The team is much bigger now, has an amazingly beautiful boathouse, and I know the sport is much more intense and time consuming than what we experienced that first year. Some aspects haven't changed - same coach, same Game Day design on the oars, same stretch of river to row on.

The crowds are bigger now, and I can't say the band, Jayhawks and cheerleaders ever came to one of our regattas back in the day. In many ways, the program is the same, but better. And seeing it through my children's eyes made a once familiar routine look brand new again.

They say you can't ever go back. They say going back can be disappointing, stir unwelcome memories or reveal details you were better off forgetting. But going back can also be rewarding, bring clarity, and offer insight and perspective. Going back can give you fresh eyes through which you view your past, your present.

We are the sum of our experiences and our interactions. And I'm glad for it.

One more for the road...this one just makes me smile.


  1. I remember that poster, yes they were crazy looking guys!
    Good memories, was fun to read!


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