On being ‘locked in’.

This will be brief.

On Twitter tonight there was a discussion of whether or not an athlete performing really well for a stretch was something that could be contributed to a guy actually feeling hot.

ESPN’s Keith Law is one of my favorite guys to follow. He gives you sports analysis from a smart, objective take. Tonight, predictably, he came down on the side that hot streaks were a result of normal randomness, citing a lack of evidence to the contrary. MLB pitcher Brandon McCarthy, another really smart guy, came down on the other side. “Feeling hot” or “Locked in” is a legitimate thing that comes and goes and it absolutely affects on the field performance.

The two (and a lot of others) got into a back and forth for a couple hours and looking at it from the outside it felt like mommy and daddy fighting. I want them to agree on everything all the time, but of course that isn’t going to happen. But I thought it was fascinating to watch, the analyst going strick science, the athlete saying he’s wrong but without any kind of irrefutable evidence.

Here’s my own take: being hot exists. Being “dialed in” is absolutely a thing. I don’t know how or why it happens, but there are times where you just feel like failing is impossible. If you’re an athlete and you’ve had a stretch or even just a game where you had the feeling, you’re probably nodding along. I still remember the few occasions it happened to me like they were yesterday. It’s bittersweet; you beat yourself up wondering why you can’t feel like that all time.

Conversely, I know exactly what it feels like to go cold. Baseball was my sport and pitching was what I was best at. But I know the terror of being on the mound and having absolutely no idea where the ball is going to go when you release it. I remember a specific game when my catcher popped out for a mound visit and I had to tell him I basically forgot how to pitch. Right there, that game I went from being an all-conference guy to someone who just picked up a baseball for the first time.

I don’t know why these things happen. The brain is weird.

#1 Greenwheel – Breathe

So hey, I’m finally finishing my list of my top 100 favorite songs. But before I get to that, let me give you five songs that might have cracked the list had I written this a year later.

#5 – Carolina Liar – I’m Not Over

#4 – Every Avenue – Tell me I’m a Wreck

#3 – Frank Ocean – Thinking About You

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F15IjgyHd60

#2 – Norah Jones – What am I to you?

#1 Tegan and Sara – The Ocean

Tegan and Sara would definitely make it. So would the others, probably.

In a year from now I’d probably add something from Demi Lovato. Her last two songs are CRAZY LISTENABLE.

******

I can’t say why I love Greenwheel’s Breathe without giving an explanation of circumstance, so you’re going to get hella exposition about when I first heard this tune.

This is the story of something that’s happened to just about everyone. It isn’t unique or special other than the fact that it happened to me this one time. This is my stupid account of a weekend college fling.

******

It took place over the course of a couple days during my junior year of college. A few friends of mine planned to have a friend of theirs from high school, Becky, visit for the weekend. I’d been told for weeks that she was way too good looking and way to good for me and under no circumstances did I stand to have a shot. I barely gave it a thought. By the date she was supposed to visit I’d completely forgot she was even coming up to stay at our place.

I was in the living room when she arrived. She walked in, dropped her bags, stood in front of me and and looked around. She was wearing jeans, a white shirt and glasses. She was trim, her brown hair was short and cut around her cheeks. A decade later and I remember that first sight of her like it was yesterday. She put her things in a guest room and we immediately walked to a party across town.

The place was your typical college house party that everyone attends until they go to the bars instead. Red cups, crappy beer, shitty music, Pucker shots, neon lights, dank basements and no where to move because it was packed so tight. We hung out in our group of five, saying hi to the people we knew because it was Friday and this was the Friday night house for us.

I’d be lying if I said at this point I was getting to know Becky or that I thought we had some kind of instant connection. We had talked some and danced a bit. I didn’t think anything of it. She was, in my own estimation, the best looking girl there and I wasn’t the only guy who thought so. She was constantly getting approached and they were constantly getting shot down. Then a strange thing started happening. Our small talk and innocent dances turned into eye contact and her taking me by the hand wherever she went.

“So, is this going to happen with us? Should we get out of here?” she said after dragging me outside the house. I don’t know what I said in response because I’m fairly certain I blacked out for the next ten seconds.

Now, again, this is something that happens to virtually everyone in college. You meet someone cute, you drink a little, you go home with them. But the guy I was as a junior in college was still basically the same guy I was in High School. Not really shy, but not outgoing. Always 100% content with the status-quo, whatever that was. Stumbled into girlfriends in high school and hook-ups in the dorms. Trying to make a move on Becky that night would have been as foreign to me as speaking Russian.

The five of us left shortly after. Three of them went upstairs to their rooms. I flipped on a cable music station for tunes while Becky hung out in the kitchen. I got close (I mean, I had some game), she told me we should go to the couch, I said I’d go upstairs for a blanket. When I separated to go upstairs she pulled me back in for a kiss I don’t remember. Again, I think my brain temporarily shut down.

Then I went and got the blankets.

******

The rest of the weekend was that thing where you’re basically smitten and inseparable. We took a road-trip, bought stupid shit and held hands. It was fun.

That night my house hosted a party of our own. At some point, after we’d both drank enough, we left for my room to have a conversation about what the hell was going to happen tomorrow when she’d be leaving to head back to her school a few hours away. We talked about a long distance thing and visits and distance like any of it mattered. This was a weekend thing, after-all.

******

The next morning I got up before her and made the house breakfast. They all got up and came down to the living room. I handed out some plates and sat next to Becky, her legs up on my lap.

“I’m supposed to be back at school tomorrow,” she says to me.

“Christ, Matt. Just ask her to stay, she will,” says her friend Kerri.

We looked at each other, I said nothing, and she left ten minutes later. It was the last time I saw her.

******

Greenwheel’s song “Breathe” was was the tune playing in the living room when Becky first kissed me in the kitchen. I played it for years after that night and whenever I did it reminded me of that moment.