I’m sure there’s an alternate universe where an almost-24-year-old Mark Sanchez is blogging about his experiences as a first grader, and I am the sophomore quarterback of the New York Jets. It’s totally rad there, and I’ve only thrown two interceptions so far this season!
Unfortunately, back in this universe, all I’ve got are these long-extinguished aspirations - dreams I didn’t even know I was killing by adamantly refusing to drink any milk throughout my youth. I sure did play plenty of football: in the backyard against my brother, with friends at recess (until it was arbitrarily disallowed, along with soccer and football #WTF), and on the computer. But it wasn’t until the end of sixth grade, when I attended a meeting for prospective members of the football team the ensuing autumn, that I began to come to grips with the fact that I’d never go pro. Or amateur.
The coach, who would be my social studies teacher the next year, told us all sorts of unpalatable things about what it would take to be on the team. Practices every day, starting BEFORE the school year even began! “Hmm, this might conflict with play rehearsal!” Games on Saturday morning…every week! “But what if it’s one of my friends’ Bar Mitzvah that weekend?!”
And there lay the gulf between between the person imaged I wanted to be and the person I had actually become. LIke a wannabe astronaut with a fear of heights, or a one-time ballerina and her two left feet, I was a scrawny pianist who sang the national anthem in the talent show. I wasn’t about to become Rob Moore.
In that alternate universe, I don’t leave Mr. Fauvell’s meeting disheartened by the snickers. I want to be a football player, I don’t say “would like” as though it was going to happen by accident. Persistently determined to prove the haters wrong, maybe I end up as Danny Woodhead, not Mark Sanchez. But then I’d be playing for the Patriots, and being a web developer is way better than that.