June 10, 2008

June 10, 2008

Note: This "Her Space" column by Lauren Ober appears in the current edition of Lacrosse Magazine, a benefit to over 250,000 members of US Lacrosse. Become a member today to start your monthly subscription.

by Lauren Ober, Special to Lacrosse Magazine Online

I have just turned 30. Let's just let that sink in for a second. I. Am. 30. Years. Old.

This means I'm not in my 20s anymore. It pains me to say that. I didn't just graduate from college. I didn't just finish my collegiate lacrosse career. I'm not a fresh-faced 22-year-old with a newly minted degree and pie-in-the-sky aspirations.

I am 30. I'm not sure I had an idea what life would be like when I turned 30, but it certainly wasn't this. Trips to the chiropractor for neck pain. Visits to the acupuncturist for back issues. Physical therapy appointments for mystery hamstring twinges. Taxes. And I live in Vermont, which I didn't even realize was part of the United States until I moved here.

I am 30. I have a dog and a small one-bedroom apartment with wretched oatmeal-colored carpeting. I own a car with embarrassing green bike racks and an even more embarrassing model name. I have three squash racquets, two bikes, a snowboard and a handful of lacrosse sticks that haven't seen the light of day in years. I have a television with a screen smaller than my laptop computer, and I have about half a dozen houseplants on the precipice of death. I own a lot of outerwear.

But I am in good company. All of my teammates who graduated with me are also turning 30 this year. Some have already reached that milestone. Others are digging in their heels, trying to stop the march of time.

For all of us, it's a significant event. Many of us were hoping that day would never come, that somehow we'd magically stay 29 forever. I caught myself the other day telling someone I was 27. It was either wishful thinking or early onset dementia, I'm not quite sure. I don't know what it is about turning 30 that has me in such a tizzy. It's only a number, but somehow it means the inevitable fizzling out of youth and beauty.

One thing that has struck me most about the dirty 30 is that now I have been away from the lacrosse pitch as long as I was on it. I started playing when I was a freshman in high school and played through my senior year of college. Eight years of agony and elation, temper tantrums and celebrations. Now it has been eight years since I played competitively. And if I could pick one thing that I miss most about my 20s, it would be lacrosse.

When I played, that's all I ever thought about. Lacrosse consumed me, for better or for worse. I didn't play any other sports. I didn't participate in other activities. Lacrosse was it. When I finally hung up my sticks for good, I was 24. I didn't know what to do with myself in those early post-lacrosse days and sometimes now I still don't. Plenty of my college teammates play on club teams on the weekends, but I've never lived anywhere with a thriving post-collegiate scene.

So I've been forced to find new activities as I get older. As I do participate in new sports, I see that nothing compares to lacrosse. Sure, hockey is fun and a good way to get out aggression, and there's a great sense of accomplishment in making it down a mountain on my bike without endo-ing and breaking my face open, but it's not the same.

I know I'm in grave danger of becoming a wistful old lady pining for her youth. I take inventory every day of any new wrinkles that pop up on my face, and I'm quite sure I'll faint if I find any white hairs on my head. I still talk about my lacrosse career as if it was yesterday, not eight years ago. But I guess there's not much harm in reliving the glory days, especially since my memory's bound to go in a couple years, and I probably won't even remember my name -- much less anything about lacrosse.
Contact Lauren Ober at ober31@gmail.com.
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