BY CLINTON PAWLICK
Dreams are important. It would be good if I could have more of them. But Ink Pot Pie, our demanding little dark angel of catness, was insistent this morning. She wanted food. And after, oh, I don’t know, 37 body blows to our bedroom door, I gave up on the possibility of sleep and got up to clean the kitchen and make her wait a bit longer. It was before 5 o’clock, and even I have boundaries.
As I stood there in front of the scatter of dirty dishes, trying to stare out a kitchen window that only reflected back the image of someone who should have been sleeping, I thought about the 22.
If my math is correct, and there’s a pretty good chance it isn’t, that’s the number of players the Seahawks had to cut by Saturday – 75 to 53. That’s 22 individuals with their own aspirations, desires. Guys trying to make it onto the roster and accomplish something they might have hoped for a long time. Who’s hasn’t wanted to be somebody?
When I was a boy, my brother and I played neighborhood football in the backyards that otherwise would have been quiet. Games happened naturally and at random. More players joined as friends noticed other friends in huddles or on streaking long routes while a Nerf bomb sailed in an arc toward the fencepost end zone. It was fun then. Even with the squabbles of whether or not someone was really in-bounds.
I could imagine myself as an NFL player. Ready on the sideline for my side of the ball to go back into the game. Being drawn to the dramatic, I decided to do some drawing of my own. You remember those big overcoats players would wear in wintertime? The team name emblazoned across the back of broad, padded shoulders while the players shot hot breath into the dry winter air, like dragons seething. I was a good neighborhood player. I probably could have been all-county if they’d had a draft for pick-up leagues. So, in a less-than-judicious moment, I found a Sharpie marker.
No good comes of a kid with indelible ink. I am just saying. I found my jacket.
For Christimas, my grandfather would get us winter coats from a now-defunct department store. They were always the same brand, Pacific Trail. The very thought makes me nostalgic still. My coat was new and felt good in my hands. With firm resolution and ready pen, I began to write across the back of slippery fabric. I wrote in big-block letters:
For a moment, I was proud. I was part of something bigger. A star (or S-T-A-R) on an imaginary NFL team. A legend.
And then it happened. Reason, that nemesis of hope, intervened. How many legends have died because of her. Big Foot? Loch Ness? An undying and ever-cool Elvis, who attends significant sporting events while consuming untold quantities of jelly doughnuts but somehow manages to stay trim? I wanted to believe in them all. And belief is much more a feeling than a thought. I mean would Evil Knievel have tried to jump over a canyon if he actually sat down and thought about it first?
Mom had me wear the coat to school that winter, where I learned humility and just how long a season can be. It’s kind of hard to hide your folly when it’s on your back and in your own handwriting.
And yet, to this day I have dreams. I want to be more than I am. To take on the world and win. To see, touch, experience, and feel. Have that bliss of wind against my body as I race down the sideline with the ball — just like Earl Thomas did against Chicago.
I want someone to make it. And if not here, then elsewhere. Because at the end of the day, the intangibles matter. We’re all we have. And, sometimes, we’re all we need.
Clinton Pawlick and his wife, Jen, live in North Seattle. They love the Seahawks, good friends, Washington reds, and their two cats, Malcolm and Ink Pot Pie.
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