Those who know me as a yoga teacher and general woo-woo softie may be surprised to learn I played Junior Varsity Lacrosse in high school. I don’t mean to say “Junior Varsity” like that implies some sort of merit. I dropped out before Varsity, before the letterman jackets and the short pleated skirts, which bummed me out because they were cute, but was a relief because they sure showed a lot of leg.
What initially appealed to me about lacrosse was the skill involved. Have you ever watched high school lacrosse? Based on the fact our entire league in Washington state consisted of 5 whole rag-tag teams, I’m going to guess the possibility is unlikely. Therefore, I have included the picture above of a lacrosse stick for your perusal. Notice how the ball nestles comfortably in the net, or “head” of the stick? Yes, that’s how you know this is equipment for the boy’s team. For some unfathomable reason, the girls don’t get a stick with a pocket like that. (Or helmets or padding, but never mind…) The net is instead stretched taut so that it lays flat. To keep from dropping the ball on the ground, the stick has to stay in constant motion, twirled back and forth in a half circle that sticks the ball to the net through the power of centrifugal force.
That was a part of lacrosse that I loved. The competitiveness, my teammates relying on me, the general danger involved I could do without. (My friend Gillian, our goalie, walked off the field each game with bright purple welts over her body the size of tangerines. I have never understood her courage.)
There was something about the continuous movement I found soothing, and it was something I could relate to. Like that lacrosse stick, I too felt I had to keep in constant motion to keep myself together. I lived with a dread that if I stopped moving for a moment, something would fall out of me, something I would not be able to pick up again.
The other reason I joined lacrosse was to grimly force myself into more exercise. The astonishing thing to me is that I was already taking ballet every day at the time, but I was convinced that more would be better.
Every day after school, five days a week, I would do an hour and a half of lacrosse practice, get picked up and ferried to ballet where I would dance for another hour and a half.
This is when the bizarre eating habits really began. The diet franchise quest: Jenny Craig, Nutrisystem, Weight Watchers, I did them all. Weight Watchers was of my own volition. Nutrisystem was a mother-daughter bonding thing we did together. Jenny Craig was my father’s idea, a bait and switch kidnapping moment when I thought we were going from lacrosse to ballet, but we took a little detour instead, and I found myself being photographed against a white wall for my “before” photo.
I am trying now to put myself in the position of the Jenny Craig “consultant” on staff that afternoon. What would I do if a completely normal 14 year old girl came in wanting to lose 20 pounds? Well, I can tell you what this woman did. She took my picture. She held it, and looked at it hesitantly. She said: “Well, you don’t look bad here, but just you wait until you see your after, you’re going to love it…”
None of those diets lasted. In the times between, I made up my own diet, which was called “don’t eat anything after three o’clock and then binge exercise all afternoon”. I think I read it in a magazine.
At the 3pm bell, after school, but before Lacrosse practice, you could find me, already running laps on the track, spinning myself in a circle over and over. I feel such tenderness for that girl now, pushing herself so hard, attempting through brute force to keep something inside, something that was destined to get out anyway.