Sunday, February 14, 2010

A swirly blue valentine

Today was the crazy wonder that is CRASH-Bs.

As in, 2,000+ rowers of all ages (teens to, I dunno, 60s? 70s? maybe older) and nationalities (24 countries, I heard), crammed into Boston University's ice hockey stadium, sitting their butts down on rowing machines to row 2,000 meters as fast as they can.

It's insanity of the best kind. All-out effort, the air buzzing with nervous sweat, adrenaline highs, expended energy, some collapsed athletes, vomit puddles (reportedly, even projectile vomiting -- now that's exciting), despair and joy and pride and tears, coaches' and cox'ns' and teammates' screams, booming announcers, the sound of 80 ergs going at once.

It's something. The energy is contagious, at least for me, as was the crash after.

In honor of the holiday, they designed hot-pink t-shirts for volunteers, with the front images and words curved into a heart. Awesome. I know there are plenty of people in the world who would love to see me in a hot pink t-shirt ... so sorry, forgot to get a picture. But, I discoverd the genius of getting a kids' large, so I didn't have to do the (highly stylish) t-shirt-dress-over-jeans look.

I volunteered as a cox'n in the morning, and was psyched for the opportunity to cheer (or scream) strangers on, throw my energy behind their efforts, as cox'ns have done for me. But, since I knew a few people running the show and can be as pushy as (OK, maybe a little pushier than) your average volunteer, I suddenly got promoted to cox'n captain, running my own little bank of 32 ergs and volunteers, which is fine, surely, except I hadn't actually done this before. Hm. Didn't seem to faze anyone. Wasn't rocket science, it's true, but I sure know more now than this morning. Only got to cox one person, which was fun, but I got pulled away immediately after for a collapsed participant, so I didn't get to do a proper "nice job!" after, felt bad about that.

Then it was into the bowels of the building for lightweight weigh-ins for 2 hours. That I've done several years previously, much calmer. Snuck a French competitor into the men's weigh-in where the scale was .2 of a pound lighter, and that's all she needed (this after repeated efforts interspersed by sweat intervals). Saw competitors from Germany, Denmark, Greece, Mexico, Italy, France, Hungary, probably others. Saw a person weigh in 23 pounds heavy ... um...? (Frantic self reminder: Don't look shocked!)

Pretty intense day; good fun. It's that same theme I do love so -- seeing people pushing themselves to their brinks, and sometimes beyond. Amazing to witness. And speaking of inspiring, they also had adaptive rower categories, but I missed those, wish I'd been able to see those feats of awe and strength.

What does one do after that? I didn't know either, I was wiped -- crashed. I opted for refueling with multiple cups of tea, meatless meatballs, cheese toast and the Sunday paper.

Then, a quest to find the delicious mint dark chocolate I experienced last night. In the process, I did some wandering.

On the way out, got my own valentine of a sky of deep swirled blues. Wound up in a spot I haven't been in a while, atop a small park at the summit of a nearby hill where you can see the lights of Boston wrapping the skyline view.

It was cold. And beautiful.

The park is essentially the side of a hill, good for rolling down in the summer. It was windy up there, and I sat on the back of a bench. My legs went numb, so felt warm, that was nice.

The park is circled by trees, those bare, reaching branches that get me so hard. I keep trying to put words on why they do, and can't. Maybe that they're a perfect symbol of winter beauty -- stripped to a clean, clear essence. Perfection against the sky. It's like they have a knowing but don't care if you know or notice. They're striking, yet constantly overlooked. Their silhouette offers a beauty perhaps too bleak for most, but it's like all winter beauty -- cutting, crisp, precise, only softened by snowfall. And then still cold. But perfect.

Think my legs are still tingley-numb.

An so a weekend concludes. With Willie Nelson singing, Good-Hearted Woman. Awesome. You can't blame me; it's my upbringing. ("She's a good-hearted woman, in love with a good-timing man ... lord knows she don't understand him, but she does the best she can ... through teardrops and laughter that pass through this world hand-in-hand ..." C'mon, give it a listen.) (Now it's Waylon Jennings doing Me and Bobby McGee. Some good shit. My parents would be proud, I think. I mean, geez: "Freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose ... nothin' ain't worth nothin', but it's free ..." Try to top that.)

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