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I have a love/ hate relationship with the track.
During JC, I remember two friends and myself sitting by the Bitumen D at Acjc track in the evenings while all the hardworking and respectable students went home. We watched while AC track legends like Tan Yue Han, Maria Pang, Jerry John, Chester Chong and Paul Tan do their runs on the track. One of my friends was supposedly in love with Maria Pang. But we all knew he didn’t stand a chance: he was a hockey player.
Most of the time, the idea behind sitting on the D was not to people-watch. Definitely the scenery was good and we got distracted. But we sat and reflected on all the wrongs we had committed for the year and listed them out one by one. Probably one of us had cheated on a test, another may have said the f-word to a teacher, and all of us were guilty of talking trash about some girl. The idea confession; the goal repentance; the time after our Singapore Poly long runs, and the place was at the track, in the D, where we could watch the world run all around us.
Things have changed a bit since then. I’ve stopped playing the wild game, and I only carry my hockey stick into recreational matches because there was a need to move on. Instead the track is now the stage for every purpose, locomotion, hope and emotion. My two friends have moved on, too: they smoke, they have a club, they have graduated, they have more meaning in their lives than to sit on the D or to run aimless loops around the track. All our heroes in JC have come and gone. And love is like sweat: it evaporates over time. It leaves a stench.
Sometimes I see someone wearing the Acjc track jersey: Kenny on a good day, Ee Ghim on another, and I think: what was I missing? Or what have I missed? But then it doesn’t matter because Ke Wen will ask me: how fast are you going today? And I will just suspend thinking and run the 400s as if there’s actually a purpose in those loops.
When I end, I will sit in the far corner, looking at the D, under the bowed heads of the floodlights and imagine what happened if I didn’t turn my back on the club. Or what if I were still a stick wizard – who only cares about Astroturf, white water rainbows at CCAB while sitting on the Bitumen D to watch mad, insane, demented crossers train and blow their lungs out over some hopeless timing that doesn’t really matter in the long run because sport isn’t about running, but playing.
And in the end Patrick will say something and I will go do strengthening exercises. I will ask Sarah Tan about Sociology modules, I will talk to Chun Meng – Roy will say something in Mandarin I don’t understand – someone will laugh – and someone will tell me: there’s a purpose because, really, it doesn’t really matter what you do, you idiot
At least not tonight.