A gray, milky sky sits outside my office window. Its subdued light reaches my enclosed shelf, which is plastered with college soccer fixtures.
With the Anchormen season now a memory, it's official: all of five soccer schedules* are now sadly moot.
(*RIC Anchormen and Anchorwomen, Brown men and women, and Providence College men.)
That being said, I am faced with a chilling reality. One of the most somber days of the year is here: Fixture List Removal Day.
You see, this is the day - typically occuring in mid-to-late November - in which I carefully peel each of these schedules off the drab, grayish shelf tucked inside my office. These bright white pieces of 8 x 11 1/2 post-consumer paper are crumpled into small golf ball-sized orbs, and ceremoniously - yes, ceremoniously* - cast into the wastebasket. From there, these remnants will be sent to the landfill, and will die a slow, agonizing death under a flock of eternally circling seagulls...
(*Before each wad is underhanded into the basket, I say "good season" and give a subtle nod of acknowledgement. Please do not consult with the local psychiatric ward regarding a possible patient escape.)
And with this process, a painful realization finally sinks in. I can no longer deny it.
There is no more live soccer for me to watch this year. None. No more Wednesday evenings and Saturday afternoons on campus. No more chatting with parents and friends, or giving post-game congratulatory daps. The pitches have been silenced 'til Spring 2009.
And the trees have bared all of their colorful hues. They will stand naked above a snowy field. The goalposts starve. The light towers will loom, but refuse to shine. Metal bleachers will remain unstirred. The flagpoles will rattle without their flags. The maroon and white scoreboard will sit idle. All will be still.
And all the while, the green of the pitch will lose its color. It will be carpeted by cold drizzle and colorless blankets of snow. Cold drizzle will freeze along the railings. Biting winds will swirl throughout the stadium. Soccer has officially hibernated.
Whoa. I fell into "Advanced Creative Writing: Nonfiction" mode there for sec. Sorry.
What will I do? I suppose I could finally get around to doing some holiday baking. Grow my hair out. Of course, I do have a dream this offseason. I want to play NCAA soccer next year. I don't know how how the heck I'm gonna make that happen. I doubt my employer shares that dream. But while I figure it out, I might as well begin training for it.
If I ultimately can't play, so be it. At the very least, I will prepare myself. I already have this book as my guide thus far. Perhaps the soccer football gods will smile upon my efforts and align some stars for me. I don't know. But with a few extra hours of free time ahead, I might as well incorporate some kind of soccer-related endeavor into my routine.
You know...maybe this offseason won't be so bad.