"'Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all"
The last game of the season (at least the last one at home) is heart-wrenching. It doesn't really matter how the season ends on the ice, to be perfectly honest. I'm not particularly invested in the outcome of the season, the way coaches and players and hockey ops people, and I suppose fans, are.
I'm invested in the my experience as a writer and as a human being trying to make the most of the opportunities that have landed on my doorstep.
There's no doubt that pro sports, even hockey, has its share of egomaniacs and jerks and poseurs. But in Houston, I've been incredibly fortunate to work with Drew and John by my side, each doing our own thing, but all of us still able to come together and do what I think is a pretty great job at T3I (more because of them than me, at least the last couple of seasons).
It's weird. I tried hard to walk that line between fan and... maybe not full on journalist, but at least someone who can analyze the team and its personnel fairly. Once you start going downstairs and having to look in the eye the guys you write about, it changes everything.
Unfortunately, they're not all like Brusty, who was always unbelievably cool about my constant and ridiculous fangirling over him. Somehow I could write Debbie Gibson-esque posts about how I get lost in his eyes, and we could still have conversations about the team on a friendly/professional/serious level. I cherished it at the time, and do even more so now that I don't have access to that kind of genuine insight any more. (And also, GAHHH IMISSYOU*SNIFFLE*)
So, writing about the team is certainly less fun now that I don't get to say blatantly ridiculous things about the players in the name of a laugh. But I spent 4 years of college (supposedly) learning to report the news, and while it's not particularly fun in and of itself, it is very satisfying to provide information that people crave.
And what IS fun, as I said, is working with those guys, getting to know the Aeros staff, at least the ones I deal with personally, and working those game nights. I'm not going to lie, we have a lot of fun. We're getting work done, but we're having fun, because writing about hockey is fun work. You take it seriously in as much as you want to be fair and accurate, but frankly, it's just a game and we aren't doing rocket surgery up there. Nobody's living or dying or inventing velcro from it.
That camaraderie, or the lack of it over the summer, is why I'm randomly leaking around my eyes tonight and maybe tomorrow, too. I used to love going to Aeros games just because of the hockey, but nowadays, I get excited to go because I get to hang out for a few hours with all those folks I've grown to care about and appreciate so much over the past few seasons.
The hockey is still the pulse of it, but pleasure in life is about the genuine connections you make with your fellow humans, and when the season ends, those connections are severed for a while, and really, from season to season, you don't always know what you'll get back in October.
I sniffled to my husband tonight that I had the "end of season sadz" and he said, "You'll get another season." I suppose, but I think you have to appreciate the season you have, while you have it, and I try to consciously do that every single game.
And, when you spend that much time appreciating a season, I also think it's normal to mourn its loss in your life. Each one is unique and fleeting and hilarious and awful and wonderful, and only those people you shared it with really understand the full experience.
So, tonight, I feel awash in utter gratitude, as well as the wish that I could have stopped time tonight and made it last just a little longer.