This morning, the warm up music for Jim’s 7:15AM spin class at YAS was Eminem’s “Lose Yourself,” and hearing it again made my heart fill with happiness and anticipation. Eminem’s song might seem an unlikely anthem for a 54-year old college professor of technical theatre.
But where this song took me was back to my days as a hard-driving hockey mom. I say hard-driving because then, back in 2000-2003, approximately, we drove an average of five round trips a week from our home in Van Nuys to our son’s hockey rink in Valencia. And that was just the practice trips. Practices were usually three nights a week, and then there was a game a week. He might also have a few other coaching sessions other times during the week. The game trips were sometimes even longer, as we travelled to Anaheim, Riverside, Encinitas, etc. for the games.
And all along the way, this precious time spent sometimes together as a family, or me solo with our son on some practice nights were some of the happiest times of my life.
Chris chose the music to listen to in the car during these 45 minute to 1.5 hour trips to Valencia. As any parent of a teen knows, the resistance to our music or NPR can be so strenuous and unpleasant that one would do anything to minimize stress or strife in the car. Even listen to Eminem.
I remember once, a few years later when Chris had more sensibly elected to play with a team in Panorama City, we were driving to practice one night and were fighting in the car about homework, or a messy room, or some other now insignificant issue, when my cell phone rang. This was pre don’t-answer-your-cell-phone-under-penalty-of-death-or-major-fines, so I picked it up. Chris continued to harangue me, and if you were to go to the archives of KCRW’s website, you would hear him in the background nagging at me and my shocked, anger-tinged voice answering and turning sweet as I said Hello to Matt Holzman, who was calling to tell me that I had just won a 17′ iMac computer. My anger and the resulting embarrassment at having been caught fighting in the car with my son by Matt Holzman turned instantly to wonderment and elation, as Chris listened and fumed in the passenger seat. Let me just say that was the best way to end an argument I have ever experienced.
But back to our friend Eminem.
That song became our pre-game anthem, blasting in the hockey-gear- stench-filled car on the way to points arctic for weekly games. And it was sweet, the anticipation of the game, of seeing the other parents, of watching the boys as they blasted out of the locker room, fully charged and ready to win. And the writer in me admired the lyrics booming from the CD player in the car:
His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy
There’s vomit on his sweater already, mom’s spaghetti
He’s nervous, but on the surface he looks calm and ready
Those were good days, those hockey days. Ice Hockey is a total commitment, financial, time, energy. The hockey parents used to joke that hockey was cheaper than rehab. We spent so much time with our boys and with each other. Holidays, every weekend, and several nights a week cheering them on as they became men. Those night drives to Valencia after a long day at work were grueling, and yet transformative of him, of me, of our family, and ultimately of our relationship. And sometimes just the sound of a song can make you lose yourself. This morning, I was a proud hockey mom again, feeling energized, happy, and ready to spin my heart out. Thanks, Eminem.