Many of us have been there.
Drinking all night. I feel fine! Totally cool to drive.
Maybe your friends take your keys.
Maybe you drive and make it home safely.
Maybe you try to drive, realize you can’t, and pull over.
Maybe the fuzz busts you because you’re stupid.
Minus the increased likelihood of hurting someone or getting arrested, I’m kind of like the I-feel-fine! asshole right now.
Because most of the time, I have myself convinced that I’m fine.
But then I need only take a step back and look at the evidence objectively.
Dishes piled up in the kitchen.
Not calling my grandfather on his 80th birthday.
Letting my bills pile up, half-heartedly paying them, sometimes late.
Neglecting projects I’ve promised to complete for people I really care about.
Not exercising regularly.
But one thing stands out above them all: Abandoning my fantasy football teams.
The Comeback Tour
That’s what I thought the return of fantasy football and the NFL season represented for me.
The comeback tour. The bounce back. The ability to let loose and really enjoy something again that doesn’t matter. To derive pleasure from the inconsequential.
That, I’ve come to learn, is evidence of a charmed life.
Things started off okay, too. I didn’t draft particularly well this year. My teams aren’t as strong as I’d like due to a little bit of bad luck and a little bit of poor decision-making.
But I was active. Participating. Competing. Attentive. And doing relatively well.
And then, during the fourth week of the NFL season, the wheels came off.
I just checked out.
I didn’t make a conscious decision to check out.
I just kept remembering on late Sunday afternoons: Oh shit! I didn’t update my fantasy football lineups again!
Then I’d shrug.
Screw it. I don’t care.
For four consecutive weeks, I didn’t update my teams or participate or give any kind of shit at all.
I just don’t care.
Right now, 50 percent of you are like: Yeah, no shit. Fantasy football is stupid. I don’t get it.
Another 49 percent is like: Yeah, every league has guys like that!
And then there’s the remaining one percent of you who know me. Who know that, while I’m not the epitome of fantasy football nerddom, I do take it pretty seriously. All those people just had stroke-like symptoms.
Because I read fantasy football magazines. Study. Watch shows. Have several conversations leading up to the preseason. Analyze coaching and personnel changes, and evaluate how they might affect a particular player’s performance.
Formulate strategies for draft day. Target sleepers in later rounds, and debate how I want to tackle the meat of my roster early.
But here I am, right now, halfway through the football season.
And, I. DON’T. CARE.
“I love the Cleveland Browns as much as my family,” I’ve said more times than I can count.
I’ve always been joking, but that line was designed to illustrate the depths of my fandom for that football team and for the NFL, in general.
It’s 6 p.m. on Sunday. An NFL Sunday. I haven’t watched one minute of football today. Not one.
I played with my son. I made lunch and breakfast. I took him to a park. We played with toys outside and on the living-room floor. We played video games. We played basketball on his Little Tikes hoop in the basement. We watched a show about African pythons.
After dropping him off at his mother’s, I mowed my lawn.
And now I’m here.
Here at the keyboard. Feeding this place. Because it’s what I care about.
Because this is what matters to me now, after my family.
This Road is Long
This post-divorce road.
This journey to rediscover myself. To create a new life. A new normal.
It’s so long.
It’s so laughable to me that I was trying to date right from the get-go. And justifying it because I hadn’t gotten laid in 48,000 years, as if that somehow made me ready.
A lot of people say it takes a year.
Others have said more like two. That sounds about right to me.
And yet another said it takes about a year for every three in which you were married.
Which means I’ll feel normal again in another two and a half years. Ugh.
I want to be back. I want to feel like me again. So badly.
But I’m not ready.
I’m not ready to date. I’m not ready to hurt someone or be hurt by someone.
I’m not ready to be back to 100 percent at work.
I’m not ready to prepare good, balanced, time-consuming meals.
I’m not ready to get all my work done at home.
I’m not ready to be back volunteering at the shelter.
I’m not ready to wake up early every single day and make this body what it wants to be.
I’m not ready to get lost in the inconsequential. Football. Television. Books. Poker. Golf. Parties. Music.
I’m not ready.
You see, The Fantasy Life used to be regular life. And I didn’t know how good it was.
And now regular life is the elusive fantasy life.
And I can’t wait to taste it again.