Monday, July 30, 2018

Duluth (part three)

I decided to go for another walk before the second session on the beautiful trail I'd discovered earlier.

At the beginning of the trail, there's a map:

See the section I marked "NO" with the red arrow? That's where you don't want to go. That's what can turn a 2-mile trail walk into a 6-mile trail walk. That, and getting lost.

Which, of course, is exactly what I did.

To compound the problem (or, perhaps, to cause it), I was using Google Maps to aid in navigation, but, for unknown reasons, the orientation wasn't due north. I didn't notice that, which meant my movement--on the map--appeared to be in the opposite direction I was actually heading.

Totally bewildering.

This is easy to fix. Take a deep breath, and check all your assumptions. If I had, I would have noticed that the phone wasn't oriented around due north.

I did not.

It wasn't panic, exactly, but I was definitely concerned. I'd been walking for over an our on a very hilly trail, and I was tired. I was missing Eli 16.11s session, which was disappointing, but I wasn't even sure at this point that I'd make it back by the time he was out of the rink.

Good grief. Percy Fawcett had nothing on me. Well, if the jungles of Brazil were as confusing as a small walking trail in Duluth, and I think that's roughly a draw.

Fortunately, as I was hurriedly writing my memoir, a man and his son came loping by. "Happens all the time," said the man, and he pointed me toward civilization, which I happily reached about twenty minutes later.

Alas, it was not going so well inside.

"This may be a problem," Eli said.


"All the coaches were talking to me, then another coach skated up and said 'You're a '99, right?' and I said 'No, coach, I'm an '01,' and then the coaches stopped talking to me. That might have been because I didn't play as well this session, but it seemed like everyone stopped looking at me as soon as I told them how old I was."

"No worries," I said. "It's probably not a thing." It was definitely a thing.

That was the doom moment, really.

"All right, go out in a blaze of glory," I said before the third session, and he did. He was easily one of the top three kids on the sheet.

After the session, he came out to the car. "Didn't make it to main camp," he said.


"Coach didn't say why. Just didn't make it."

There followed a long venting session from both of us about these damn camps and why on earth a younger player who's as good or better than the older players wouldn't get any consideration.

It's a huge grind to go to these camps, and to go to them and not get rewarded is very, very tough.

Then I thought about it, though, because it needed to be thought about. On our way to the airport, I restarted the discussion.

"I think we need to talk about what's happening and how we respond," I said.

"Okay, I'm listening," he said.

"When somebody asks 'How did camp go?' and you say 'I got screwed', that's not what you're really saying. Or me, because I said it, too. We don't know all the details of how the evaluation went, so we can't really answer. Saying 'I got screwed' isn't an answer, it's an attitude. Does that make sense?'

"Oh man," he said, "that really does make sense. What I should be saying is 'I played well and it didn't go my way.' That's what I know."

"That's right," I said. "And just saying that makes it feel different, doesn't it?"

"It does," he said. "That's what I'm doing from now on."

Listening in, unknown to both of us, was a tick, hiding behind my knee. I didn't discover him until the next morning when I woke up, back home in Michigan.

How is that even possible?

There's something about an interstate tick, one collecting frequent flyer miles, that is somehow far more ominous than a local, earthbound tick.

I was lucky, though, because it came off easily (it barely even attached) and I had no complications. Not sure what it had been doing all that time, but as ticks go, it was a poor performer.

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