The essay I wrote in my head involved having some kind of revelation while watching Russian Circles— instrumental rock stalwarts and one of my favorite bands in the world—play in Brooklyn after having completed the New York City Marathon in November of last year. That didn’t happen. Instead, I found myself in a bed in a nondescript hotel in Queens, fighting cramps and shivers, eating a burrito that seared the roof of my mouth with every bite because the unseasonable heat and humidity had desiccated my entire body. I looked up the show’s setlist the next day. They played “Youngblood.”

I can’t write that essay, but I can write this one. I grew up in a hockey town in Ohio, a few miles north of Dayton. The kids in my neighborhood turned the streets into rinks, the curbs into boards. Their dads coached them from Mite to Squirt to Peewee to Bantam to Midget. (A 2016 rule change by USA Hockey has since renamed youth hockey divisions by age group, thank goodness.) A kid from the next town over won a bronze medal at the 2006 Winter Olympics, and my orthodontist put her picture on the wall. When Sarah Palin gave a strange and fascistic campaign speech at the arena next to my high school in 2008, she greeted the crowd with a braying “Hello, hockey moms!

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