I feel old. I bought hangers the other day. I've bought sheets. I've bought those little cling things you throw in the dryer. I didn't know who Justin Bieber was until a month ago when I head Kevin & Bean talking about him. I wear shoes more than I wear sandals. I wear a tie. The last album I purchased was Jackson Browne's Runnin' on Empty. I found my first gray hair. I don't really go to the movies anymore and when I do I complain that it's too cold in there and why isn't that asshole putting his phone away and I glare at the little kid who can't stay still for 2 hours when I'm trying to watch some cowboy movie. (The only movies I seem to like now are Westerns, I don't know why.) I didn't think that little kid smoking was funny; instead, I wondered aloud, "Why hasn't Child Services taken that kid away?"
I agree with my dad a lot now.
At the same time, I'm still basically a kid. When I bought my hangers I also bought one of those tubs of Sour Patch Kids, then I ate them all in like 2 days and walked around with my mouth open because it hurt too much to touch my teeth together. I really want to see Toy Story 3. A dog walks by and my world stops. The album I purchased before Jackson Browne was Andrew WK. My favorite foods are hot dogs and pizza. I still throw tantrums.
I think the trick is that I'm ostensibly an adult but all my experiences and memories connect me to when I was a kid. I can process new experiences like an adult, but then I"ll see Ace Ventura: Pet Detective or read Calvin & Hobbes and I'm immediately 8 years old again. I'll be at work and then Basket Case will come on and I feel the same way I did when I was 7. And I'll watch Alexander Frolov play and I'm immediately 16 again.
Frolov isn't the only favorite player I've ever had. There was Kelly Hrudey, who I revered as a god because I was 8 and that's what you do to your heroes when you're 8; there was Mattias Norstrom, who I loved and looked to as a 2nd father when I was 13; there was Lubo, who I thought of as a loyal pooch when I was 15; and there was Craig Conroy, who was a really cool friend that always let you borrow his stuff and told you to give it back when you could (I was 19 then). I met Fro when I was 16 and I always loved him like a you love your first girlfriend, that needy, awkward love that you think will last forever and you're terrified to lose.
Slowly but surely, though, those childhood memories are being replaced by memories I've been making as an adult. I used to think of the time I went to Calgary with my dad when I heard "road trip;" now I think of my trip to Toronto after I graduated college. "Soft drink" used to make me think of Sprite; now I think the bartender watered down my Jack 'n Coke. The word "boobs" used to make me giggle; now... well, it still makes me giggle, so that's a bad example. The point is, I'm slowly losing those things that made me a kid.
Hockey has always been my ultimate hiding place from the vagaries of adulthood, but even that's starting to change. It seems like I spend more time reading about the cap and trade possibilities than I do actually focusing on the hockey. I don't get as mad when the Kings lose as I used to and I don't get as over-the-moon as I used to when they win. I can't really bring myself to hate Randy Jones as much as I used to hate Len Barrie or Dan Bylsma or even Brian Willsie. And I don't think I'll ever really have a favorite player again. I love Meat Train and Drew Doughty, sure, but I don't feel that tightness in my throat when they're thrown into trade rumors like I used to with Fro. I don't rage when I hear someone denigrate their talent like I used to with Fro. It's still love, I guess, but it's tempered. It's not as fun.
I'll always love hockey (or at least I hope I will) because my core memory when I hear the word "Hockey" will always be playing in the driveway with my brother and I don't think that'll ever change, but my relationship with the Kings seems to be moving in a new direction. I'm old enough now to know it's dumb to feel sad when your favorite player leaves your team but I'm still young enough that I feel sad anyway. Is that ever going to change? I'm not sure. Right now I don't know what's worse: the prospect of feeling this way the next time someone leaves, or not feeling this way at all.