This is my most recent soccer injury. I have decided that this is a "moderate level quadricep contusion." I found that on the internet. The bruise is located just above my left knee (to the right in the picture), where I was cleated by a goalie in a co-ed game. He had no reason to be slide-tackling me. I still cannot bend the knee much past 90 degrees.
When I was in junior high, some 25 years ago, I used to play indoor soccer 5 times a week. We'd have games starting as late as 11:30 at night. I played soccer until I was 19 and then didn't play again until I was 25. I stopped again and didn't start again until I was 33. I hate the way my body has gotten slower. Even when I'm in shape, I don't have the speed and quickness today at 38 that I had even at 33. When I was 33, I played indoor on three teams and was always getting hurt, which should have told me something. But I played with a 45-year-old woman who could run circles around the women in their twenties and I figured I should be able to do as well as she. During that period, I went to the emergency room for concussions on two different occasions, one of which came from hitting my head on the wall and the other from catching a shot on goal in the face. The second hit me so hard that I couldn't fully open or close my jaw for two days. The other time I went to the hospital was for my collarbone, which I thought I might have cracked. There is still a hard lump there. My legs are relatively short and muscular, which is why I think I have never had problems with my knees and ankles. When I trained for a marathon in 2005, I did have some illiotibial band tightness and pain, but I managed.
I was about 33 when I started to notice that I was aging. It's an odd thing, since I'd always heard people older than me joke and laugh about their bodies falling or drooping, cellulite and jowls developing, and so on. Certainly, there had been people whom I noticed aging in the face, their hair turning grey or white, usually friends of my parents. But I never noticed any sign of it in myself. There were a few mornings after long nights of decadence in college when I'd looked in the mirror and thought, wow, this is how I'll look when I'm 50, but things generally snapped back into place after a day or two. I don't have much vanity about my looks--I'm not unpleasant to look at, unless I'm crying or angry. But I am certainly nothing to start writing poetry about either. Still, as a member of a society that places such tremendous value on the visual qualities of most everything (except what cannot be seen), I am certainly conscious of how I look and try not to sicken myself or others with my appearance. What was my point? Right, so my body is getting old. I have a little brown spot on my hand that I know will grow into a liver spot eventually. And there are deep creases between my eyes, over my nose from glaring at computer screens and books and students all the time. I have two grey hairs on my head that appeared around my 30th birthday and even one grey pubic hair. The worst thing though are my legs, especially just over my knees. When I stand with both my feet on the ground, all of the skin and fat sort of settles above my knee. I am pretty active so it doesn't fold over or anything, but I can spot the beginnings of some puckers. In principle, I care nothing about aging; I try to regard growing old as part of living. Aged people are often quite beautiful, especially if they are content with their lives and have their health and are able to participate in something that interests them. Happy people, regardless of their features, tend to be beautiful--animation is part of it, but also happiness is pleasant to look at. In principle, then, I am not opposed to aging or to looking older, but still, one gets used to looking a certain way. And it seems like being older hit me suddenly and accelerated quickly. Really, I am more disturbed by how slow they've become than the appearance; I could attribute my short strong legs to my peasant heritage or something. But the slowing down: where's the burst of speed, the stopping and starting, the weaving and darting?
I was thinking about aging last night while listening to Obama's acceptance speech. Presidents always look much older after four years in office. Somewhere I saw before-and-after photos of several presidents--a magazine article maybe. It was striking how profoundly the stress affected the men's appearance.
While listening and watching Obama's acceptance speech on TV, surfing the web for images of knee injuries that looked like mine, and thinking about how quickly soccer-playing women and presidents age, I was also on the phone talking with a friend about the rhetoric of race, or what there has been of it, in this election. I am puzzled by the repeated use of the phrase "first black president," since the man is bi-racial. Is he "black" because he has chosen to affiliate with that aspect of his heritage over the European? Is it better to be "black" than bi-racial? More noble to claim African descendancy than to claim both African and European? If Obama says, "I am a black man," everyone nods. What if Obama said, "I am a white man"? Would that be equally acceptable? It would be agreeable to think so, but I am skeptical about the public's ability to err in both directions. Is he "black" because fathers are more important to their children's identities than mothers? Is he "black" because, as a nation, we still operate by some form of the "one-drop rule"? Is he "black" because for others or for Obama himself to call him "white" or even bi-racial would look too much like denying affiliation with a racial group that for too long has been denied full credit for its part in helping to begin, build, and keep this country going? Is he "black" because that is the least complicated rhetorical road for him to travel at this point in history? Well, none of this is all that much about Obama himself. I would have voted for him regardless of what racial identification he claimed or that others assigned to him. I agree with my friend Joanna, though, that it seems rather late in our history as a nation to still be having so much difficulty with the idea of bi-racialism or multi-racialism.