Last Friday, I went to my daughter's first track meet. It was freezing. Okay, it wasn't technically below 32 degrees, but with the wind chill....let's just say we sat on the bleachers wrapped in blankets and I sorely regretted leaving my gloves in the car.
But I wouldn't have been anywhere else in the world. She ran only one event (the 200 - the penultimate event), but in the intervening hour and a half, I got a glimpse into her world.
My daughter has played basketball for four years, a game played indoors where it is warm and there is no wind chill. But in basketball, when the girls aren't on the court, they are are on the bench.
There is no bench in track. Between events, the runners litter the field, warming up, running around, cheering each other on. Who she's with, what she does - questions I only sporadically get the answers to off the field - reveal themselves in this unstructured, primally adolescent setting. Happy, in her element and totally un-self-conscious, she revels in being just where she is, and I marvel at her energy. On a Friday afternoon, when I am anxious for the weekend to start, she is burning off nervous energy at a rate that makes me wonder if she'll tire before it's her turn to run.
But she doesn't and when she runs, it's with determination and gusto. She doesn't place, but after the meet, she's flushed and happy.
Today, we get to do it all over again, this time at an away meet. This morning, snow mixes with rain in a fine mist on my windshield. She has packed her extra layers, and I have packed an extra blanket and a sweatshirt and the hope that the rain will stop before I need to take my spot on the wet bleachers. I wonder if she'll place today - that would make her happy - but this is a tougher team, and she may just have to settle for the satisfaction of a race well run.
I have lower expectations. I just want to stay warm and dry.