Thursday, October 07, 2010

Blue Rules

One of the coolest things about my school in Israel was the Hockey Marathon.  Every year, I think in February, the entire high school would divide up into red and blue teams.  In the weeks leading up to the Marathon, the captains of teams would determine the hierarchy of players and divide into squads from A to E (or so) and practice.  The school was decked out in huge posters that covered every bit of available space, and the gym was transformed into a red and blue battlefield.

Then came the big event -- starting on a Friday afternoon, we would play floor hockey for 38 hours straight, finishing up on a Sunday morning.  First the A boys would play for an hour, then the A girls, then the B boys, and so on.  Most people played on two squads and thus were scheduled to play every 6 or 7 hours.  So we would camp out in sleeping bags and try to get some shut-eye between heats, or hang out in the gym cheering on our team, with the music blaring and all of our friends there and the whole school watching. 

I've never been involved in another tradition quite like it.  It was awesome and crazy fun and overwhelming and exhausting.  We'd all be fried and hoarse from cheering for days afterwards, but would immediately start looking forward to the next one.

And the allegiance to color was pretty much a permanent deal -- once you were blue, you were always going to be blue, barring some extraordinary set of circumstances.

When I showed up this past Saturday for the Alumni Hockey Marathon, I wasn't even sure I would play.  I had my kids with me and I was tired and I haven't played hockey in 26 years.  But I wore a blue shirt without even thinking about it.  Honestly, I just grabbed it out of my bag, and only when I got there and decided to sub in on a heat did I realize I was wearing blue, and of course would only play for blue.  Playing for red was unthinkable.

I only played for about 10 minutes, and was totally on the verge of barfing up a lung afterwards, but it was worth it.

And Blue won, of course.

The reunion was as most reunions are.*  A whirlwind of old memories brought to the surface and old friendships rekindled and the fascinating experience of finding out, 26 years later, how your recollections of teenage awkwardness matched up with what other people remember about you.  Seeing old boyfriends and thinking, "really? him??  Huh."  Martinis.  Getting into intense conversations with people you haven't talked to in decades, and have them tell you seriously deep dark secrets.  Dancing until 3 in the morning.  Laughter.

Lots and lots of laughter.
* Of course my nervousness and apprehension were totally unfounded.

Many thanks to Candice and Sharon for the pictures.  

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