I was a pole vaulter in high school, and a fairly good one at that. I was a district champion my junior year, but my senior season was wiped out by a serious car accident. As a result, I was never able to take note of my final vault. When I walked off the pitch at the end of my junior season, I thought I still had another season of pole vaulting ahead of me.
Sadly, pole vaulting is not a sport like basketball or baseball that you can continue playing well after high school. Pole vaulting is one of those sports typically relegated to a vaulter’s high school or college career.
Nevertheless, I want to vault again. One more time. And I want to do it before it’s too late. At 41, I am in excellent shape, but I know that my window on pole vaulting is closing fast. There will come a time in the not-so-near future when pole vaulting will be a physical impossibility for me.
I have to try it one more time before that day comes.
This got me thinking that my window of opportunity is probably closing on other things from my past as well, and that perhaps this might make for an interesting book:
A 40-something man attempts to recapture and relive moments from his youth one more time before it’s too late.
Pole vaulting would be a perfect subject for the book. I could spend the spring working out with a local high school track team, relearning and re-mastering the skills required to execute a successful vault. I would gather amusing anecdotes about interacting with kids half my age and coaxing my body to do things it probably shouldn’t be doing, and I could recount stories from my own vaulting past, all while attempting to successfully clear opening height, which was 8’6’’ when I was vaulting.
It might actually make a decent book in its own right, but I think it could also serve as the heart of a book that deals with my attempts to foolishly recapture other meaningful moments from my life as well as I fail to come to terms with getting older.
Coming up with those other subjects for the book is the next step. So far I have two:
1. Marching and playing the drums in a competitive marching band.
I played and marched with my high school’s drum corps from seventh grade through my senior year. In that time, our band won a number of Massachusetts state championships and two New England championships. We also marched in the Rose Bowl, the Macy’s Day Parade, halftime at several Patriots home games, and down the streets of Disneyland. Marching competitively again would require that relearn to play the drums at a proficient enough level, which would probably mean spending a full season with a local marching band. I could document my struggles and successes as I attempt to integrate myself into a marching band filled with people half my age, and at the same time share the plethora of amusing, heartbreaking and even tragic stories that I have from my days with the marching band.
2. Mailbox baseball
While my wife is supportive about most things I do, she has made it clear that this would be a non-sanctioned activity. Growing up, a friend and I played a lot of mailbox baseball. Though I realize how destructive and dangerous this game was, it was incredibly thrilling at the time. To hang out of a car window just one more time with a baseball bat and obliterate just one more mailbox with a single crushing blow might make my life complete.
I have a few other ideas as well, but none nearly as good.
Attending one more prom is a possibility (I attended many of them while in high school), but there might be a serious creep factor involved with taking some high school girl to the prom (if I could even find one willing to go).
If you have ideas or suggestions that you think might work well, please let me know.