Day 15.5: Curling Community as the Glue that Binds Me to Something Greater
I didn’t write last night I did however, volunteer at the Saint Paul Curling club.
In last night's project, we unfurled long sheets of plastic and stapled them to the walkways or over the seat, so the flooding of the ice floor (seen in this photo with ice) can start in a few weeks. Our club is not year-round, we take a break to work on club projects and repairs.
Season preparation begins
Yes, the curling club prepareth for a new season of curling!
There are plenty of projects to be completed – new lighting in the back stairs, new TV installations and the office is getting repainted.
I appreciate the curling fam so much that contributing in this small, and yet meaningful way helps everything feel “greater.”
Plus, it is never a bad thing to connect with people you think of as family and josh about the latest goings on.
We lost a few members back-to-back over the course of the summer, a more somber reflection. A few of us on Tuesday night work crew spoke about our friend Mike Staffaroni. His teammates reformed and added a fourth player. A palpable sadness lingered when his name was mentioned.
Our long-time kitchen manager is in hospice care with advanced cancer. He continues to take visitors and when things are going better on a given day, chatting with them as though nothing has changed.
Ever changing landscapes
Change is inevitable, and over the years good friends have come and gone from the curling club. Some through life altering or ending circumstances, others due to divorce and some because they chose to head to other states and places for work. Nevertheless, each year, a certain consistency is self-evident and steady. Some jokes get recycled, the furniture occasionally wobbles, and the ice is never the way we’d think is “perfect.”
Curling for me is a life-changing sport. Maybe I wish I’d grown up here, like so many of the legacy families – in which curling was introduced first as a baby in a basket as Mom and Dad curled Friday Mixed, later joining juniors on Saturday mornings and progressing to Junior Nationals or the Olympics. Still, curling came to me just when I needed it. A type of divine intervention to the journey I undertook moving to Minnesota.
I remember back to those first few years, learning balance and falling consistently. Then there was the process of painstakingly obtaining equipment – a broom, a slider, later replaced by official curling shoes and of course all the clothing styles and types. What would be required to stay as warm as possible for two straight hours on the ice?
Trying on teams, skips and nights of the week. Adding and subtracting the number of nights I curled. Subbing in on teams across the map so that I built up a knowledge of differing styles of play. Improving each season as I progressed from shaky and uncontrolled deliveries to focus, and often, making the shots that were called.
Physically and emotionally, there is something about curling that tests our limits as humans in the safe space of comradery, family and etiquette.
Clarity and form
Many times, over the years, being at the curling club throwing rocks, as the 42-pound granite play pieces are called, helped me to forget for a moment the troubles or concerns of the day, for just long enough sometimes that solutions often presented themselves.
On other occasions, members of the club were there for moves or rides or simply as friends. My entire kitchen collection (almost) was established through a donation of one of the curling members who’d recently gotten married and had extra items.
More recently, I started a bonspiel team called “Team D’Bed Rocks.” I am having fun building the team roster and playing with our bonspiel aliases which all have some sexual innuendo. I love the interaction and questions that come about. Hopefully, this season I get a logo and banner made as well as name badges.
Throughout the years I have been tested by this family, laughed, cried and enjoyed countless shared experiences which made me a better, more richly nuanced human.
I can’t imagine having survived eight years and seasons without them. Even the two seasons I only played half-time due to school requirements when I finished my MBA were key to my sanity.
Community is so vital to feeling connected to the great thing we call life. Holding us firm when life gets shaky, providing consistency and resolve. And when things are amazingly good – like that time I won a championship game with Team Fenner (see the blog here) -- the pats on the pack are worth their weight in gold.
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