Well the winter has officially arrived in Toronto. We’ve had some snow, and this morning I had to spend 10 minutes brushing and scraping my car to get the snow and ice off before I left for work. Needless to say I’m not very thankful for snow because it really does me no good, BUT the cold temperatures do mean that all the outdoor rinks in the city are opening soon which is great news! I’m sitting watching the Leafs game right now and they’re already down 1-0 but it’s still early and I’m confident they’ll get it together, considering the last 7 goals scored in games they’ve played in were scored on them…
UH OH TIE GAME! JVR with a tip in goal for those that are wondering.
I know I’m Canadian, but having lived in the USA for the better part of the last 4 years I’ve come to adopt the American Thanksgiving. I’ve come to love the tradition of family and friends, turkey and football. I’ve spent Thanksgiving in Pittsburgh with my cousins and I’ve had Thanksgiving dinners in Toronto with my family and grandparents. I always loved the idea of the Thanksgiving travel rush, no not the flight delays and cancellations, but the fact that everyone just seems to be friendlier, everybody is wearing their school sweatshirt and that invites conversation. With that, I’m going to dive into what will undoubtedly turn into a LONG reflection on the year that was.
What am I thankful for?
The most important thing that I’m thankful for right now is my family’s health. On August 30 I was in West Michigan getting ready for a game with Detroit’s affiliate, the Whitecaps. I got a phone call from my Dad saying that he, my mom and my sister were in a car accident. It was move in day at Harvard and my sister was getting ready to begin her Sophomore year. Three weeks later it was clear that her academic year and her 2013/2014 seasons (hockey and softball) would be lost to a concussion suffered during the accident. Having seen the pictures and heard the descriptions of what happened I’m relieved that my sister and mom’s concussions were the worst injuries suffered. My Dad jammed his hand, and in my expert opinion I think it’s his hamate bone, the one baseball players break when they try to stop a swing wrong. The damage could have been far worse, so I am thankful that in the grand scheme of things they are all safe and healthy. Mom and Molly have started getting back to their daily lives, pouring over books and newspapers and slowly building back into being full time athletes. I’ve said to many people since Molly came home for the year that although it’s absolutely under the wrong circumstances, I’m extremely happy to have her around because we haven’t been home together for this long in five years. She has always been my very closest friend, and to finally get to spend some time with her, going to hockey games, going out with our mutual friends and training together (started yesterday, more to come) has been a blessing.
I’m thankful for the fact that I got to spend a full year chasing the only dream I’ve ever dreamed. My season was a roller coaster, I’d have a great month then an awful one, then another great one. Statistically speaking my season was pretty good, but I know from the way I performed and the way I felt month to month that it was still a learning experience. I’m still trying to figure out what works, how my body reacts to the grind of 140+ games after Spring Training. I had a conversation over texts right after we got knocked out of the playoffs in which I was asked if I was okay. My answer surprised me, because normally I’m crushed by season ending losses. My answer went something like this, “I’m okay. I realize that I’m so incredibly lucky to do this for a living. I get to play baseball, the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do. I get to go out and play every single day. It sucks to be out of it now, but there’s always another game. I’m lucky to have so many people who love me, care about me and support me.” I realized that even when things weren’t going well, when I wasn’t playing well or wasn’t playing at all that I still had so much to feel lucky about. On my worst day, an ugly 0-4 I was still playing baseball, I was still in a stadium filled with a few thousand fans and I’d have some great friends to go out and try to forget the game with afterwards. I had way more great nights filled with walk off wins, playoff clinching celebrations and dominant performances by my team. I’m incredibly thankful that the Padres once again gave me every opportunity to succeed. I’m thankful for the 30 or so guys I got to call my teammates this year, some for a short period of time, and others from start to finish. I’m thankful for each and every single one of the 410,459 Fort Wayne Tincaps fans that made Parkview Field such an incredible place to play. I’m incredibly happy and thankful that I got to have my family come down to watch me play as often as they did. Having not been close to home has made it hard for them to get out to see me, but being a quick 6.5 hour drive from Fort Wayne was definitely a blessing, even if it meant having to brave the cold and the Rally Camel at different points of the year.
I’m thankful for my friends, particularly because in spite of the fact that I’m rarely around they always welcome me home and we pick up right where we left off. I’m incredibly lucky to have a group of friends here in Toronto that truly are always there for me. Whether it was a small breakdown over a crappy week of play, or a hysterically funny text once in a while you are all so incredibly important to me. I’m so excited to have been able to see a bunch of you already since I got home, going out for sushi lunch dates, hockey game dinner evenings, and casual after dinner meetings to just catch up. Even though we may not get to see one another for months at a time I truly do cherish the time we get to spend together, it’s awesome to share the laughter, happiness and joy that only great friends can provide. I also am thankful for my friends that are scattered across the all the places I’ve called home over the last four years. I miss the ice cream nights at school, the baseball house nights and all the summer nights with friends in Lowell, Cape Cod, Arizona, Eugene and Fort Wayne. You all have given me reason to smile even when I really didn’t feel like it.
I’m thankful for second chances because without them I realize my world would look a lot different. There were times that I felt like the guy Kenny Chesney is singing about in his song Living in Fast Forward.
‘Cause I’m living in fast forward
A hillbilly rock star out of control
I’m living in fast forward
Now I need to rewind real slow.
There were definitely times when I felt like that guy, out on the road, lost without any real direction other than whatever the lineup card told me I had to do. I felt like at times life was moving at fast forward speed and I know that some of the things I did in those moments were stupid. I know that I did damage to friendships that I really did care about. I realize that I hurt people and I’m grateful every day that those people have let me try to fix the things I’ve done. I’m glad that I’ve been able to slow down, catch myself and reset and refocus on who and what is important to me. To those that fall into this category, you know who you are and as I’ve told you I’m committed to making things right. I thank you for forgiving me and understanding that I’m human.
I’ve had an awesome year, and Thanksgiving always begins the countdown until the end of the year and the start of a new one. I’ve made new friends, developed new relationships, played in another awesome city, traveled to the Dominican AND gotten to take my sister to a Leafs game (which they won btw). I look forward to everything that is still to come in the final month of 2013 and then to the start of a new chapter in the book of life. It will be a chapter in which I’ll be a better person, a better friend, and a better player because of all that I’ve experienced in this chapter.
What am I thankful for this year?
Side note. After 2 periods, the Leafs have made it 5-3. Like I said, the turn around was bound to happen!