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Off Sides: 10 Years Since I Sat in Scheumann Stadium

Off Sides 200As I watched the Ball State Cardinals defeat Illinois State in their first game of the season, I felt somewhat nostalgic about my time as a BSU student. I had some of the best times of my life in college. When you’re in your twenties you always kind of feel like you’ve just graduated from college, even if it’s been 5 or 6 years since you could walk into a college house party without people thinking you’re a cop. Something happens when you turn 30 and you suddenly realize you don’t feel––or look––like someone who belongs on a college campus. And you feel like if you even talk to a girl under twenty someone is going to call the cops. I’ve come to this realization before, but I was reminded of it during the Ball State vs. Illinois State game. I began thinking of all the things that have changed with me and my life since I left Muncie in the summer of 2004.

The Friday Night Blues:

Ten years ago there was no doubt what I’d be up to on a Friday night. I wouldn’t even think of not being at a party or closing down the bars in The Village. I would have to be forced out of Dill Street as I choked down one last drink. I would then proceed to wait in line for 3 Carter’s chili-cheese dogs before going home and sleeping 14 hours, only to get up and do it all again on Saturday. I’m sure I got hangovers back then but they apparently weren’t quite as memorable as the epic ones I get today. If I have more than 5 drinks now I wake up the next day feeling like I’ve been exposed to a lethal dose of radiation. There’s nothing like calling in sick on Monday because you went out on Friday night.

Few things seem less appealing to me now than going to a loud bar or club. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy hitting up a sports bar to watch a game with friends, or to see a good live band. But, if I’m being honest the major appeal of going to bars and clubs to get wasted was that hope that I’d somehow bring home the hottest girl in the bar. Like Gatsby staring at the green light across the bay, each Friday and Saturday night held mystery and hope. Now, I’m married. There is absolutely no chance I will ever hook up with a hot drunk girl ever again, unless it’s my wife. If you take away the hope and mystery of getting laid a bar suddenly becomes just an obnoxious and loud place where you spend a lot of money to feel like crap the next day.  Now my idea of an exciting Friday night is pizza and Dateline on NBC. Then I pop a Tums and am in bed before 9pm. Saturday is my day to get really crazy. We usually go out for dinner, and possibly even see a movie if we’re not too tired.

The Injured List:

When I was in college I could drink all night and easily get up and run 5 miles the next day. I was never a star athlete but I always exercised and felt like I was in decent shape. Even on a really bad day I could easily run a 5k in under 25 minutes. Today I feel like I’m running a 7:30 pace, but thanks to modern technology my smartphone is happy to let me and my Facebook friends know I was actually running at about a 9:30 pace. It seems like as soon as I turned 30 my body started to give up. My stomach appeared to get bigger almost overnight, my knees and feet hurt constantly, and every joint on my body seems stiff. I could never sneak up on anyone due to the constant popping of my joints.  From a torn pectoral muscle, to stress fractures and severe tendinitis, I can’t remember the last time I exercised without cringing. The scary part is I’m only 32, and I still get called “kid” by people over 50.

This looks like me after a two mile run except my knee only feels like it's been hit with a bat.

This looks like me after a two mile run except my knee only feels like it’s been hit with a bat.

Running on Empty:

When I was in college I remember going 24 hours without sleep. When I finally went to bed it wasn’t that I was really even that tired, I just knew I needed to sleep for health purposes. Today it seems like I’m always looking forward to the next time I’ll get to sleep. Awhile ago on a day that I was feeling particularly tired I drank two 5 Hour Energy drinks only to end up taking a 3 hour nap. A few days ago while shopping with my wife at the mall I told her to go ahead and shop while I sat down for a few minutes to “rest my eyes” in one of the massage chairs. I don’t remember falling asleep, but I woke up with drool leaking out the side of my mouth and a group of kids laughing at me. I thought of how I must have looked, and it was certainly not like the care-free college student I was 10 years ago.

Of course,  in many ways my life is much better than it was 10 years ago. But let’s face it, there is nothing funny about the good parts of being in your thirties. So I guess what I’m saying is if you’re reading this and you’re still in college you shouldn’t dread getting older, but please, for the love of God, enjoy your youth while you still can.

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