Friday, September 20, 2013

It's not what you think.

Practice makes perfect, they say, so in theory, I should have perfected the craft of leaving by now. In reality, it seems to become increasingly more difficult. And Australia might have been the toughest place to leave so far. Undeniably it's thrilling traveling to new places and meeting new people, but goodbyes inevitably follow, typically without any reassurance or certainty of reuniting. That is sort of the cruel contradiction of this job--always beginning a new adventure, but never without leaving one behind. Despite my uncanny experience, leaving Australia tugged on my heart strings. Fortunately, I have signed to play again next season so this time I know I am going back. I take comfort in that.
Before heading to Slovakia and another basketball season I made sure to organize a little mini holiday for myself to help restore my mental and physical constitution after playing for a whole year now. I went where the locals go, Australia's equivalent of Tijuana or Vegas--I went to Bali. This was really one of the better decisions I have made lately. Bali is what every holiday venue should be: cheap, beautiful, warm, more fun than anyone can handle and culturally rich. Did I mention cheap? No one ever wants to spend a lot of money, but on holiday I think we all concede to the notion that we are spoiling ourselves and so money becomes marginally less relevant. You couldn't spend a lot of money in Bali if you moved there for a year.
Most of my time in Bali was spent reapplying sunblock, but in between applications I had a jolly good time. I persuaded 3 of my teammates to skip out on work and come with me, which wasn't as tough as ya might think. We went to a water park our first day and wailed as we flailed down frightening slides and dubious rides. We parasailed, jet skied, fell off a banana boat and went underwater sea walking. People keep asking me what that is--it's literally exactly what it sounds like, except there is astronaut gear. Really really awesome astronaut gear. We bartered and bought and even got our hair braided (I did at least). When in Bali, hey?

I found the most interesting aspect of the Bali experience, and by interesting I mean life-threatening, is the driving. I can't be too positive, but I am pretty sure there aren't rules. Heck, there are barely even lanes. Instead it's just space, just space for people driving one direction and space for people driving the opposite direction... and that's it. You've had a good driving day if you didn't die. There are no traffic signs and very few traffic lights, but those appear to be merely guidelines as well and every cab driver ignored the red lights recommendation to stop. I wonder why that didn't make the brochure.

After Bali, I had just enough time to pack, say my farewells and attend a couple banquets. Our team one was actually the night before Bali and afforded me an auspicious opportunity to spend time with some of my favorite Aussies before leaving. My last night in Oz was spent at our league banquet. It was a nice evening but the sight of Wanneroo players soured it a bit, naturally. I won MVP, but I desperately wanted the title more than any hardware. Sometimes I wonder if people truly understand the definition of "valuable". I reckon someone on that Wanneroo team proved their value unmistakably more. That little nugget is gonna haunt me for the next 7 months.

While it isn't always easy closing one chapter, it's fantastically liberating beginning a new one. Probably why I enjoy reading so much, you just aren't sure what's going to happen next. Germany has been pretty great to me the last two years, all things considered, but after all those speeding tickets I figured I'd better cut my losses. I'll admit Slovakia wasn't high up on the old list of places I'd like to live--or places I'd like to visit for that matter--but they wanted me so here I am. Slovakia has been better than I expected, though I set the bar pretty low. Perhaps due to it's more eastern location or perhaps just from my own ignorance, I had a less than fair image of Slovakia in my mind; an image marked with ghettoes and filth (pardon my candor). I've never been more grateful to be wrong. It's lovely. The hotel I am living in (we'll come back to this) is in the middle of a national park and the view from my window is endless rolling fields and mountains. It's stunning, truly. Check out the picture I posted below. Nice shot hey? I didn't take that specific one, but I could have. I know my way around a camera. Okay, so the living in a hotel bit--it's not what you think. Unless you think it's awesome, and then, well, it's exactly what you think. Free meals, free cleaning service and the constant feeling of being on holiday. I dare you to not be green with envy. Just watch Home Alone 2 some time and you'll understand. I imagine this is what famous rich people feel like. I gotta say, it's not too shabby. Bri and I have our own suites across the hallway from each other with living room, bathroom, dining area and bed. When we leave our doors open and shout from our couches, it's almost like we live together. Spisska is remarkably small, too. How small, you ask? There's no McDonalds. Yep. Spisska has somehow remained untouched by modern influences, for better or worse. I say worse, but whatever.

We've played two games since I have been here, both against the same Hungarian team. We lost both, but the second game was markedly better than the crap we did the first game. We've got all the tools--big posts, smart point guards, good shooting guards etc we just have to put it all together. We play at home this weekend in a tournament and season officially starts the following weekend. I need a holiday again. Oh, and let's not forget the uniforms. Somebody somewhere hates me. In fact, I actually think there's a group cause their scope is expanding. Seriously, look at that top. It's quizzical. Who could possibly think physical activity is enhanced with tight, suffocating apparel? Those people irk me--they are irksome. I feel like if I eat one meal the jersey will rip off me like the Hulk, except it's because my belly not my biceps. No one's a winner there. Misery loves company as they say so I am delighted to have Bri back as my teammate to share in these irritations. It stuns me at how fortunate I have been with teammates--Morty last season, Bri again this season--though I guess when you factor in the bankruptcy and fired coaches and teammates, it balances out.

I have my first visitor next month. Coach Vaughan, my high school basketball coach and mentor is coming to visit on his way home from a missions trip. What a treat that will be. It will be a short trip, only 3-4 days, but I couldn't be more excited.

Here is the link to our team website where you can access our season schedule as well as the link to the live feed for our games. It should be a great season! Gooooo... shucks, I don't know what our mascot is. Eesh. I'll get back to you on that.

1 comment:

  1. Here's a thought....the people who design your uniforms are the same "suits" that also run the teams and leagues. I'm just suggesting the two might be linked :-).

    Great update btw....good luck this season.

    - Brian