I'm certain that when most of you think of me, Elizabeth, certain words come to your mind. Wife. Scholar. Actress. Lover of bad 90's music. Writer. Athlete. Wait, what? Big shocker here, I am not athletic. I am the opposite of athletic. I am Non-Sporty Spice. If there was a contest for most UN-athletic/team sport person in the mid-atlantic states, I would win. (Wait, who am I kidding? I'd lose that, too. THAT'S how bad I am at competitive sports.)
No, no, that would be Kyle, the skinny, scrappy, both-fists-swinging Irishman I married. He's the athlete. The coordinated, muscular one who leaps into any competitive fray like a gangly leprechaun on fire? That guy.
So when our young married's group at church announced that they would be forming a team for broomball night at the local ice rink, my immediate thought was, Great. Another activity I'll look stupid doing.
But in the spirit of our marriage (and our blog), I decided to be brave and give broomball a shot. After all, what's more adventurous than me, armed only with half a broom and a sweaty, broken helmet trying to maneuver a ball on solid ice? Um, nothing, that's what!
For those of you unfamiliar with the rules, broomball = ice hockey in sneakers + broomsticks (- bristles).
So imagine my surprise (and Kyle's) when I actually turned out to be GOOD at broomball. Now granted, I have zero aim, depth perception, or balance. But I have HEART. That's right. Me and the Mighty Ducks. We believe in ourselves.
It turns out I kind of love playing defense. Maybe it stems from my secret love of getting in people's way. I found myself becoming more aware of the weaknesses in my team. I could see a clear shot to the goal and move to block it. I could see Kyle fall and rush to back him up when he lost the ball.
And Kyle...well, Kyle was awesome. Dashing across the rink, throwing himself in front of the goal, colliding with half of the other team, body-checking/smacking himself into the ice/wall/goal posts like it was some kind of medical need. There was no hesitation in him, no moment of wondering if what he was about to do might really, really hurt. Just a sense of complete abandon in the game.
And leave it to me, naturally, to start to see broomball as yet another metaphor for marriage. As I watched our team (made up of 3 couples from our small group) play five rounds, I was so struck by the sense of watchfulness I felt from them. Every time someone slipped or fell or made a good shot or blocked something, there was a response. One husband cheering on his wife when she intercepted the ball, a wife making a sympathetic noise when her husband ran face-first into the glass.
Of course, all good teams know these things. They cheer on their teammates. They worry about them. They defend them.
But there was something special about watching newly-weds and other young couples fighting for each other in a very physical, real way.
I hope that Kyle and I can model in our relationship what we were able to do playing broomball. That Kyle will literally throw himself in front of the ball, as selfless as I already know him to be. That I will be as mindful, careful, observant of the ways in which Kyle needs me to defend him when he is down.
Now it's probably important to note that we, uh, totally LOST broomball tonight. We didn't win a single game. Even the high school freshmen girls won ONCE. Not us.
But I guess that's not really the point. If you think about it, we probably "lose" more often than we win, when it comes to all the stuff thrown at us in life. What really matters is, was I a good teammate? Someone Kyle could count on when that big, scary dude who clearly plays college hockey is barrelling toward him and the ball or when he started bleeding after a bad fall or that second where he lost his balance and skidded across the ice? Was I there? Was I paying attention?
Kyle's thoughts: I loved that even though we were losing...making mistakes...falling down...it was still fun because we were with the people we love. There was also a sense of pride in defending our spouses on the ice. Kind of romantic. I mean, I knew if no one else on the ice had my back, then Elizabeth did.
So here we are...home safe, tired, and sore. The wounds have been doused in hydrogen peroxide. The ibuprofen has been administered. The stiffness has set in.
Tonight I feel renewed in my desire to fight for Kyle, with Kyle. Broomball was a fun, sweaty reminder of that thing I forget so often...that we can lose a battle and still win the war.