we've gone division one.

walking over to the connolly center, i had to think about what i was doing, and why i was doing it. i was on my way to see my old roommate from college, whom i hadn't spoken to in over five years. maybe i had been feeling guilty, since he wrote me a birthday greeting via facebook in january 2006, and i had never responded to it. maybe i was genuinely in a good mood after work yesterday, and i thought seeing an old friend might sustain that good feeling into the night. or maybe it was something else entirely. maybe it had to do with seeing johnathan and setting up plans to see an old professor. it was like something out of a charlie kaufman movie script, where i was setting up all circumstances to relive my early years at seattle u, so that i could once again convince myself that i mattered, and that the world was an okay place to be in.

alright, that's probably going a bit too far. i walked into the connolly center and asked for him. this blonde girl swiped my staff card. "do you have an appointment?" do i have an appointment? this is just fucking anthony we're talking about here. she said that i could go back and see for myself if he was in his office. i walked around the corner and then another corner and saw his name on the door. the door was wide open, but inside was an older, slightly balding guy with dark hair. i knocked. "umm, is anthony here?" he turned around. "hey! nice to see you, man!" i was stunned at how much older he looked. his face was the same, but he was somehow hairier and balder.

his office was just as messy as he kept our dorm room. there were boxes full of equipment stacked one on top of the other, and papers lay scattered about all over his desk. "have a seat," he said, and i sat down on a red chair with wheels. he had a gatorade and water bottle on his desk, and his windowless office smelled like a gym locker. "i was out playing with the boys today," he said, and as our conversation continued, he repeatedly referred to the soccer team as "the boys." i asked him about how our school going division 1 affected him. he said it didn't really, except that they are getting more money. he added that the soccer team has always been good, so moving up a division didn't matter all that much. "what about basketball?" i asked. "oh yeah, it matters for basketball," he said. "do we have a good team this year?" i asked. "we'll see," he said.

during our conversation i felt extremely guilty that i hadn't attended a single soccer game of his, or even knew anything about the sport. soccer was his life, but i neglected it and viewed it as a waste of one's time, just as he probably saw creative writing as a totally useless endeavor. he asked me what i had been upto since graduation. as usual, i underplayed what i had done. he told me that he had worked in a bank and was on the verge of a big promotion when the soccer coach offered him a job. he took "a huge paycut" (second time he's told me this) so that he could do what he loves. i slightly resented that he didn't turn out to be the money hungry personal banker i always envisioned he would become.

i told him about the troubled youth i worked with. "they sound like my kids," he said. i told him i didn't want to be stressed out all the time and having to bring my work home with me. "that sounds like my job," he said. the thing was, anthony coached a soccer club from burien that had at-risk youth with drug problems, anger management problems, etc. "one of my players even has a kid," he said. "can you imagine? i have parents coming up to me asking me about parenting advice." he looked miserable as he said it, but he could still look me in the eye and tell me that he loved his job. he worked three jobs, actually, and in addition to that, he was taking classes to get his masters in educational sports leadership or something like that.

we got to talking about old classmates from seattle u and from high school. "did you hear michael is getting married?" "he already did," i said. i told him that he could google michael's name, and an online article from the new york times would appear. it was a high-profile wedding, as our former classmate is currently some big shot lawyer in new york, who married a schoolteacher he met while attending georgetown. "he deserves it," anthony said. "he was such a good guy." we're good guys, too, i wanted to say, so where's our goddamn recognition?

anthony continued to talk about his brother, who recently took the mcats, and was now applying to med schools. he also told me about a former teammate on his soccer team who is now making "$2 - 3,000,000 a year." he qualified all of these success stories by saying that these guys "worked [their] butts off" and "deserved everything [they] got." i had a hard time imaginging what these guys were doing differently, though, that they "deserved" such things. while i've never seen anthony work his butt off on the soccer field, i do have plenty of stories about how he and i would watch episodes of seinfeld all day on his computer, and how he would later type all his assignments last minute, late into the night.

did these guys just hit the books harder, party less? did their brains function at a higher level than the rest of us? i told meagan that i thought it was warped that anthony believed hard work can lead to financial success, but she agreed with him. "i could do it," she said, "if it's something i really wanted. and you could, too." i guess they were both right. if i wanted, i could take out $80,000 in loans to attend law school, work my butt off for three years, and then interview for big firms like i was a white, yuppified asian american. and all this time, despite what the papers have to say, i could convince myself that i have job security, that the economy is still strong, that i would be able to tolerate waking up everyday in a suit, and maintain good standing with the other suits who were born and bred long before i was to swim michael phelps-style, right up the corporate stream.

but i digress. "you talk to stephanie at all?" it was a stupid question, i knew even then. stephanie was this disney channel blonde who anthony had spent most of college pining for. one day i bluntly asked her how she felt about him. "nothing is ever going to happen between us. ever." i told her that she should probably let him know that, but i'm not sure if she ever did. "we don't talk anymore," he said. "it ended badly." i could sense that he was hurt, and i didn't press him on it any further. "what about mikel? rob?" according to anthony, our neighbor mikel has been traveling all around the world, probably working as an international gigalo. neither of us knew what became of rob.

"i'm not having terribly good luck with the ladies," he said, seemingly out of nowhere. i always found it amusing that he chose to confide in me all his lady woes. i could only assume it was because he was inundated with so much machismo on a daily basis, stories about how so-and-so "scored another goal," and by "scored another goal" i mean firing his balls into that loose, open net. meagan suggested it was because the both of us had no idea how to ineract with women, as a direct result of our brainwashing at jesuit, our catholic all-boys high school. anthony probably assumes i just "know how it is." fact is, i do.

i kept asking if he needed to get back to work, or if i should go, but he told me no, and acted as though he had all the time in the world for me. but eventually, it was time to go. he suited up, black nike sweatpants and a black seattle u track jacket. he put on a black seattle u baseball cap. he looked like he was going to rob a bank, but in reality, he was going to coach a game at 7 that night. "you going this way?" i said, pointing to the gym. "yeah, yeah. my car's over there." "oh, alright." he told me that i should email him if i want to hang out again. "sure," i said. "is it still sardon-a?" i was referring to his email address.

"still sardon-a," he said, then he stretched his arms out. "it's just like i never left."

1 comment:

sprout said...

i'm gonna need a visual for this one.