Ultimate has defined my experience in Texas.

I moved here as a field hockey player, but within six months I was a convert to the Frisbee-based sport.  As a graduate student, I was hungry for a new team; for competition; for the good, hard sweat that comes with a grueling practice.  Much to my shock and awe, I missed the structure, the challenge, and the expectations of being a competitive athlete.  As an undergrad I mildly resented the commitment, but maybe all I needed was the chance to miss it.

So I stumbled across the women’s Ultimate team at UT Austin – Melee.  And since then, this sport has been at the center of my life.  It’s defined my vacations, my social life, my romantic life, my weekend plans and my physical activity.  It’s become who I am.

Unlike in typical sports, Ultimate teams generally opt for unique names.  Rather than being “The Tornadoes,” “The Tigers,” or “The Matadors,” Ultimate teams go for names like “Furious George,” “Riot,” and “Slow White.”   Which explains my first Ultimate team’s moniker. 

A melee can be defined as a fracas, a clash, a fray.  A scrum, if you will.  A mess, a shitstorm, a brawl.  Conflict.

And the irony is that, in some ways, this has also defined my experience in Texas.  I’ve gone through periods of calm and peace, but for the most part I’ve learned that being a grown-up is often fraught with difficult decisions.  With messiness.  With complications and change.  With tremendous inner struggle.

Now, maybe it’s just me.  But in observing my friends and family, I’m inclined to think that being an adult is simply…difficult.  Unless you hide yourself away in the wilderness to live by your wits outside of civilization, you’re bound to face some internal and external melees.  And wouldn’t it be sad not to have choices?  They can feel so paralyzing, so desperately painful.  But at the end of the day, I’ll hold on to my free will, thank you very much.  I’d rather have too many options than not enough.  I’d rather have to navigate thorny relationships than not connect with other people in meaningful ways.  I’d prefer to make a decision and wonder if it was the right one than to not have a choice at all. 

There was a time when I wanted to run away from these conflicts, and I even thought that I could avoid the ones inside my head and my heart.  I thought that leaving Austin entirely would calm things down.  I imagined myself out in the boondocks (or at least the suburbs), living a quiet and peaceful life with the birds and the wild bears.  But I’m an intensely social person, and it wasn’t long before I realized how much I truly love where I am.  How much I appreciate my choices, and even the emotional clashes that I have to face in order to be a citizen of the world. 

So I say, bring on the melee.

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