Friday, June 02, 2006

Feeling Alive With Emotion

This week has been emotionally tumultuous. I have caused a woman to cry. I’ve seen another woman cry and sweat simultaneously. I’ve been to yet another funeral. I saw a group of people I hadn’t encountered in almost a year. I experienced unanticipated jubilation.
Let’s start with the ridiculous. I have a part time job calling Arena Football games on Saturdays. The team to which I’m attached lost its first seven games of the season. As you might imagine, the mood around the arena has been a little tense. Last Saturday, our boys played at home against the top-rated team in the league. With thirty seconds left in the game, our team was behind by three points and was facing fourth down and 27. It seemed ugly. Then, in a jaw-dropping moment, the ball was in the air. In the back of the end zone, a wide receiver leapt high and caught it. Touchdown. We win by four. It was the first victory I had had the pleasure to call. A week later, I still can’t believe how excited I was.
Moments after the game, my heart racing and my sweat glands working overtime, I hurried to the coach’s locker room and changed into a suit. A long-time friend, in her early thirties, had been married earlier that evening. She had not been married before, and this wedding was quite a social occasion. I was determined to wish her well and experience at least part of the party. The wedding had been outdoors, and the evening was uncommonly warm and muggy. Resplendent in her gown, she glistened in the night. When I saw her, she still was producing tears of joy, and she had been dancing. She was happy to see me and said, “I’ve been sweating since I said ‘I do.” It was a classic moment.
I know this bride because we worked together for many years, although our relationship assuredly has a significant personal component. People flew in from all over the country for this wedding, and a by-product of that was something of a newsroom reunion. It’s astonishing, really, how many people have moved on over the years. It is an inspiring tribute to this woman that so many people traveled such great distances to be with her on her wedding day. To sit at a table with people with whom I worked for many years after an absence of many months was somewhat surreal. It was uplifting, though, to spend time with them in a relaxed and celebratory atmosphere.
A mere three days later, my wife and I marked our 19th wedding anniversary. I don’t know anyone who’s more happily married than we are, and we snuck away from work for a high-end lunch. It was a Tuesday, though. There wasn’t much celebrating. We try to honor one another every day, so the nondescript nature of the proceedings isn’t particularly disappointing.
Midweek, the news came that one of my high school teachers unexpectedly passed away. He was a prominent athlete in the sixties, and his death made headlines nationally. His funeral was a somber affair, traditionally Roman Catholic and somewhat perfunctory. I saw several high school classmates and many members of the faculty from those days.
My French teacher approached me in the parking lot to say hello. I asked her why we hadn’t spoken in more than twenty-five years. She didn’t know how to answer, but we caught up amiably. Then, I said something I certainly had not planned, but happens to be true. I told her that, of all the teachers I had she is the one I remember the most fondly. I had no expectation of a response. It was a spontaneous utterance. Tears began to stream down her face. It was like a movie. I have no idea what has been going on in her life and career, but apparently she needed some affirmation. She hugged me tight and cried a little more. I was so surprised; I don’t even remember what we said after that. I’m just happy I said what I said when I said it.
Sadness, jubilation, gratitude and love all presented themselves to me in the course of a calendar week. It’s good to really feel alive.

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