A BREAKTHROUGH! No, I don’t speak Macedonian. No, I don’t know where my job or my home will be. No, I haven’t received my Peace Corps issued heater (seriously!). But these issues are completely trivial because I found out that…wait for it…
I AM AN ATHLETE!
I know, you all thought I was totally clumsy, right. I thought so, too. It might have been seeing videotapes of myself spinning in the outfield with my glove sitting in the grass during my T-Ball games in second grade. And then there was the incident when I pegged a team member in the chest while playing catch at a softball game last year. Whoops. But leave it to Macedonia to really bring my unknown talents to the forefront, because I just played a mildly competitive game of football (not American) and totally loved it.
It all started with trickery. My host mom, Biliana, said we should go to a match at the high school that was being sponsored by the local women’s organization. The match was in support of the FARE program which is Football Against Racism in Europe, so how could I say no, right. Biliana promised ten minutes so that I could come home and study. Ha. I get there and the coordinator slaps a t-shirt on me and says it would be a symbol of support and friendship if I played. Easy for you to say, man, you didn’t get pigeonholed as right field in T-ball because you were an embarrassment to the sport…of T-ball.
Also, they want me to make a speech. No prob, speeches are my fave. So I address the crowd with my most diplomatic face and then I go hyperventilate in the corner for the next five min while the crowd is jamming to some spirited Macedonian pop music. It’s OK, I tell myself, you watch soccer all the time. Clearly there has to be some skill transfer between you and the TV. Clearly. Maybe you can channel the spirit of a dolphin or the foot of Michael Ballak or the entire animal kingdom to help you.
And then (CRAP!) the game starts and immediately the ball is kicked to me. Panic, panic, panic. I stop the ball and pass it to a foreward who actually receives it. Holy crap! I just made a play! I don’t suck! Huzzah!
Well, my team didn’t win. But I got the award for best player! It’s sad, but it is my first merit based acknowledgement in team sports! And most importantly I didn’t embarrass the Peace Corps or all American women in general, so mission complete. So at at the end of the day, I had to mentally high-five myself and grin as I enjoyed my juice pack.