My freshman year at an all-boys Catholic school, I spent my winter as one of three managers for the school’s wrestling team, a job that, more than once, involved watching teenage boys go through day-long fits of near-anorexia to hit their weigh-in that night.
The school was nearly 1,000 students, but when it came to the lowest weight class, 103 lbs, there were slim pickings. The younger brother of one of the varsity wrestlers started the season as the freshman 103 lbs. representative, but soon graduated to varsity due to a lack of other options. Soon after, the coach approached me, a visibly scrawny sort who weighed 105 lbs soaking wet, and asked if I’d move from manager to wrestler.
At the end of the season, as a joke, the team and coaches made the three of us managers have a round-robin wrestling tournament. The other two managers out-weighed me substantially—they were 160 and 140 lbs, respectively—but a good laugh was had by all except me.
I’ve spent the last few days wrestling with a new computer, as I would have preferred to then. Except that era seems to have passed for me, too.
It’s hard to feel the passage of time, hard to know when something has passed you by until it’s well in your rear-view mirror. Today, while watching portions of some Opening Day baseball games, I couldn’t help but think about the Mariners, as I’ve been know to do. And it took me a second to remember when, exactly, Ichiro left.
There was a time, six weeks after I arrived in Seattle, when my roommate and I debated whether it was worth camping out to get tickets to see the Mariners, led by rookie sensation Ichiro! to an MLB-record-tying 116 wins, take on the Yankees in the ALCS. We chose not to, deciding instead to wait for the World Series.
Now, Ichiro’s a fourth outfielder, hanging on in the hopes of getting to 3,000 hits before walking away from the game. And as for that World Series, I’m still waiting. Fifteen seasons later.
There was a time I swore by Windows, but now I’ve been a Mac user for nearly a decade. There was a time I celebrated being able to fit into adult size clothing, but now, two decades later, I proudly wear a smaller shirt size than I did then. There have been so many other changes, subtle in so many ways, contrasts that come to mind at the strangest times.
The other day, walking through my old college campus, taking in the mix of sights, old and new, I repeated one of my standby quips: “My first beer was a Budweiser, and it’s all been better since.” But it’s strange to think how many beers I’ve had since then, how much time has passed. My first beer could have had a bar mitzvah last Fall, had I been so inclined.
And the funny thing is, that anniversary fell on the penultimate night of the World Series, an event sponsored by the very brand I so disdain, which was held in a stadium I visited a couple months earlier, the home of the team I supported as a young child, well before I ever got roped into a pair of wrestling matches I had no chance of winning.
But winning, of course, is a relative term, because victories are always transitory at best. Nobody but me remembers those wrestling matches, and nobody but me really cares about this computer I’m going back to battling in a moment. And while plenty of people feel a sense of pride at the four banners that hang at Safeco Field, I’m someone for whom they’ve never changed.
1995, 1997, 2000, 2001. They were all there before I was, and I wonder how long it’ll be until I see a new one.