The winter phase of my ongoing hometown tourism was supposed to include the following:
- Dead & Breakfast, Manitowoc
- Botanical Gardens Festival of Lights, Green Bay
- Pabst Mansion, Milwaukee
- Admirals vs Timberwolves Hockey, Milwaukee
- Badgers vs Spartans Hockey, Madison
- Gamblers vs Team USA Hockey, Green Bay
- National Railroad Museum, Green Bay
- Wisconsin Maritime Museum, Manitowoc
Out of that 8 item list, however, I only completed 2 of them.
A Sick Puppy & Other Excuses
Remy got sick in late November with a UTI. Not only was I concerned about traveling with Remy and leaving her home unsupervised for long periods of time, but the vet bills made me think twice about some of these stops. I decided to go to one hockey game instead of three, canceling my plans to see the Admirals and Madison Badgers. I also decided not to go to the Pabst Mansion, which would have been a gluttonous display of materialism antithetical to my values anyhow.
So I canceled those three trips and decided to use my week of vacation to start writing my book about the North American Road Trip instead.
I decided to push out both of the museums until spring when their hours of operation are more favorable to my work schedule. So those two items weren’t skipped so much as they have been delayed.
That leaves the Dead & Breakfast. I reached out to them for a quote and was told that an overnight stay ran $300. I’m guessing that I asked them for a quote before I retired from law, and back then, $300 wasn’t quite so damning. But on my current income – regardless of whether the overnight stay is worth $300 or not – visiting the Dead & Breakfast is a luxury I simply can no longer afford.
Green Bay Botanical Gardens
I don’t have much to say about my visit to the Green Bay Botanical Gardens and their Festival of Lights. It was nice. I’m glad I saw it. It’s a Christmas display, and I don’t get too excited about Christmas. There was nothing here that stood out as special or extraordinary. It’s definitely not the sort of thing I feel compelled to revisit. But it was a pleasant way to kill an evening in December.
Gamblers vs Team USA
This was meant to be a pretty simple event – just enjoy a good, simple game of hockey. But it turned out to be a profoundly bittersweet experience.
I came in to the game rooting for Team USA, but they got trounced by the Gamblers 2-5. Frankly, they deserved to lose. It seemed like every time one of Team USA’s men got the puck, they tried to run it down the ice and make the goal themselves. But hockey is a team sport, and it has been my experience that the team with the more fluid and effective passing game wins. Every. Single. Time. The Gamblers had a passing game. Team USA did not.
After I graduated law school, I decided to try playing hockey. I joined the Madison Gay Hockey Association in its inaugural year (2006-2007) and played for one season. I got my first job as an attorney and relocated to Green Bay mid-season, but finished out the season. Given my pathetically low pay, I could not afford to continue playing hockey for the next few seasons.
After I opened up my own law practice and began making some real money, I decided to return to hockey for the 2010-2011 season. Knowing that my skating skills were rusty, I enrolled in a skating clinic here in Green Bay in the summer of 2010. Unfortunately, an old and unresolved injury from playing Ultimate Frisbee in my college days resurfaced. Rather than go into details about the injury and make a short story unnecessarily long, suffice it to say that the old injury caused my entire right leg to shut down. I was benched for that season.
After a few more excruciatingly painful years, someone referred me to a physical therapist who diagnosed the issue with my leg in mere minutes and fixed my old Ultimate injury in less than two weeks. But nearly a decade of favoring one leg over the other, there was a major power imbalance between the two legs that would need months of therapy to try to restore balance to. It never quite worked itself out.
So that one season in 2006-2007 is the only season of hockey I’ve played. And this is the story I’ve been telling for the past several years. But last night – at the Gamblers vs Team USA game, it occurred to me that I’ve been remembering my time on the ice in very abstract terms. “Blah blah blah… Used to play hockey… Blah blah blah… Bum leg… Blah blah blah… Miss playing the game.”
I guess I didn’t realize how long it had been since I’ve been to a hockey game. I felt very different last night – being at the hockey game and immersed in the environment of an ice rink again. Listening to the clack of the sticks and pucks, the scraping of the ice. The feeling of the chilled air on my face and the ever-so-faint scent of the ice. Watching angels glide on the ice like they were born and raised on it and watching those same guys slam into the walls. The pent up fury and rage. So many memories came flooding back last night.
My god! How long had it been? 2 years? 3 years? The last game I remembered going to was an Admirals game, but when was it? When I returned home, I looked back at my credit card statements and other records going back 6 years to 2013. I could find no evidence that I purchased a ticket or went to any hockey game. I couldn’t fucking believe it. Have I really not been to a hockey game since at least 2012?!! Well… I guess that explains how my memories could have faded so much.
I miss those late-night lonely drives up Hwy. 151 at 2am – after a game in Madison to get back home to Green Bay so I could go to work the next morning. I miss the absurd ritual of unpacking my bag and laying my gear all over my tiny apartment so it could dry and air out. Nowadays, half of my gear has been re-purposed for haunt costumes, and I’m wildly conflicted about how I feel about that.
So I had been remembering my hockey days so abstractly. I had forgotten how elegant and glorious this sport is. Now I REALLY miss playing hockey. Impractical – perhaps impossible – as it may be, there is a part of me now that desperately wants to get back on the ice and is thinking “fuck the leg!” and figure out a way to get back out there anyway.
Another Passion at Odds with Being a Drifter
I want to return to the road,be free of society, and be independent of this economy. I concluded that the best way to achieve all of this was to get rid of most of the rest of my remaining possessions and become a legit drifter.
My passion for haunt craft has been at odds with my passion for nomadism. My haunt craft requires a lot of tools, materials, and supplies. I struggled with this for a long time and tried to find a way to have my cake and eat it, too. But after a great deal of soul searching, I ultimately decided to give up my haunt craft so I could be truly independent.
IF I decide to return to the ice (and that’s a really big if at this point), I would be faced with another dilemma. Hockey isn’t inherently in conflict with minimalism or the drifter lifestyle I crave. But it does require some rather expensive, heavy, and bulky equipment. And while I don’t mind being cavalier about health care now, I don’t think I would play hockey again without having health insurance coverage.
So am I going to spend the next few days, weeks, or months contemplating just how badly I want to get back into hockey, only to decide to abandon it for a drifter lifestyle the same way I decided to abandon my haunt craft for it? Or does having two passions contrary to the drifter lifestyle cause me to abandon my nomadic ambitions?
Maybe I CAN Have My Cake and Eat It, Too
Maybe there’s a middle road, after all.
Before I even arrived at last night’s game, I was doing some thinking during the very short drive between my house and the Resch Center. I had this idea that instead of spending all of my time out west, migrating back and forth like a fucking bird – south in the winter and north in the summer, maybe I could come back to Wisconsin in the summer for haunt season. Maybe I could rotate between places like Slab City, the Olympic Peninsula, and Green Bay. It would obviously require me to travel greater distances, but that would be achievable if I were willing to hitchhike rather than exclusively hike.
The idea is not without merit. I’d be able to keep doing haunt work, even if it isn’t my own private corpsing craft. I could conceivably earn some money from the work for food. Best of all, I wouldn’t be saying goodbye to my Wisconsin friends forever. I’d see them each year for several weeks if not months. I’m not saying it’s a perfect plan or that I have all the details worked out. This idea is literally less than 24 hours old. But it gives me some hope.
If I throw hockey back into the mix, I would need to make even bigger changes to my plans. But I wouldn’t necessarily have to give up being a drifter. I would definitely need to retain a source of income (for the gear and insurance), but this might give me the added motivation to find a location independent job or start an online business. Instead of dumpster-diving or stealing to feed myself, I could comfortably continue getting my food from grocery stores.
If I still choose to give up my vehicle, I could retain a storage unit for my hockey gear. If I get a storage unit for that, then maybe I don’t have to give up all of my haunt stuff, after all.
My point is that hockey might provide me the motivation to make changes and compromises to my plan so that I can still be a drifter, but not sacrifice my haunt craft and not live quite so precariously.
I’ve got a lot to think about.
Violence and Aggression in Hockey and Haunting
Although I’ve never been formally diagnosed (or if I was, she never shared her diagnosis with me), I am a self-described psychopath. I’ve reviewed the APA‘s criteria for psychopathy, and an honest assessment of my personality indicates that I meet almost all of the criteria.
Almost all. The major difference between myself and a textbook psychopath is that I am generally nonviolent. This is not to say that I haven’t gotten into one or two scuffles in my years. But I try to avoid direct and hostile confrontation, favoring more indirect and surreptitious tactics in dealing with people.
There are two caveats to this. Sometimes, I feel extremely violent and it takes all of my willpower not to succumb to rage. And frankly – I’m not always successful.
I felt a lot of rage and aggression when I played hockey. Maybe it was the physical nature of the sport (and the common practice of fighting) that made me feel like I had an outlet for releasing bottled up anger. Perhaps the athleticism of the sport produced some sort of testosterone-fueled rage. I don’t know. I’m not an expert on hormones or neurochemicals. I tried doing some research on it just now, but didn’t really find much as it pertains to sports. But since there is so much fighting in hockey, I’m inclined to think that I’m not alone in feeling this way, so I’m inclined to believe there is a hormonal or neurochemical explanation for this.
I’ve also had similar feelings when I’ve performed as a haunt actor. Maybe not quite as severely as when I’m playing hockey, but the sensation is definitely there. In this case, I’m not so sure if it has anything to do with hormones or neurochemicals. When I’m haunt acting, it feels more like I slip into character and get super comfortable in that skin. As if I’m casting aside my real costume and truly being myself.
Whatever the explanations are, I’ve found that both haunt acting and hockey do stir up my more aggressive and violent tendencies. I’m not really sure what to make of this. I’m not sure how common this is or if any of my haunt friends or former hockey teammates feel the same way. Something to chew on for later.