Tuesday, January 22, 2013
The day came.
Finally, you could say.
I bet your Daddy could say ... finally! After five years, one month, one week, four days, and 22 and a half hours ... you took to the basketball court ... a day he had been looking to since December 7, 2007, at 12:37pm.
(Even if you were a girl)
And I was just as excited as he was; I started basketball as a first grader. It was love at first uncoordinated, gangly dribble. And walking into that hot, stuffy gym on a cold winter Saturday morning sent my nostalgia into hyperdrive. I spent hundreds of Saturday mornings in a gym in Nikes.
And you were enthusiastic about your new sport so long as you could continue gymnastics- we promised. I would say this to anyone I love; if you're having a bad day, please go watch 11 four and five year olds scrimmaging on a basketball court. It made my 2013.
You're an outgoing kid all of a sudden, we overheard you telling anyone in earshot what your favorite color is (purple) that you're in gymnastics and can't be in swimming until basketball is over, and what you were doing that night (going to a Timberwolves game in your Kevin Love jersey "even though he is not playing,") so you might need to work on focus this season. When the Blue Team had 6 players and your Green Team only had 5, you followed the opponent you were guarding to the sidelines when it was his turn to sit out. You told your coach, you told me to follow my guy; this is my guy.
And I have said it before and will continue to do so. I don't care what you do in life so long as it's not illegal street drugs, or hockey. I really don't. I'd be proud of a spelling bee champ. A lifeguard. A singer, songwriter, baton twirler, or peace corp cadet. It makes no difference to me what your passions are. I just want to cheer for you. I also want you to be part of a team, I think teams are essential to life.
I moved to my hometown as a fourth grader. I had a mullet.
That detail doesn't necessarily matter in this story, I just want you to know life sucks for everyone, at some point.
I moved to my hometown when I was nine. I had no friends, lived way outside of town in the woods, liked to read, and knew I wanted to play basketball at this school, too. I had the Nikes and elastic-bottomed sweats to prove it. My parents signed me up for the town's youth basketball association, and we played all winter long on Saturday mornings. There wasn't much participation from my elementary school, so my team merged with the Catholic elementary school to form one team.
It was there, in fourth and fifth grade before entering middle school, I met five of my besties, your Fairy Godmother included, on an opposing team. Back then, 24 years ago, those girls were the WORST. Their team, from an elitist, newer elementary school, was good. Like, embarrassingly good. They had chemistry, from being schoolmates since kindergarten, from having parents as coaches who had a clue about the game. I had a cobbled-together team comprised of complete strangers, plus some prep school goody-goodies and rotating and clueless coaches. Watching that team together made me jealous. Of their skill. Of their camaraderie.
When I entered 6th grade at the middle school, our district's seven elementary schools dumped into one school. The girls from the team I had just spent two years loathing were suddenly my new teammates. And, as sports and teams go, we figured it out, and fast.
As 11-year olds, we shared scrunchies in team colors, LipSmackers, silk shirts, Espirit bookbags, and lunches on cold buses on game night. We learned each other's weaknesses and strengths, knew which buttons to push, which to respect. We traded secrets and boyfriends and Algebra answers and thought we ruled the world. And we did. We made Jock Jams our anthems, wore tall socks, signed casts, ran Killers when we were late, stood up for each other, and ate JellyBellys on the bench. We made bad, bad decisions and heartfelt apologies. We had braces on our teeth baring the blue and white of our school's colors. We coordinated our outfits off the court, on non-gamedays, and sent flowers to the girls with broken hearts; legitimate or not. We crashed our cars, looked for our boyfriends and crushes in the bleachers, and made up ridiculous cheers and chants. We drove our coaches crazy, and made our parents proud. We learned how much we needed each other and how to handle all the shit in life nobody tells you about, ages 11 to present day.
I graduated from high school 15 years ago this year. Those girls are buried in my heart, and run through my veins. To this day.
We cried buckets of tears at our basketball banquet senior year, the year that was so hard for all of us on that team. We were tan by graduation that June and smiling together, arms around each other, wrists full of scrunchies, charms around our necks with our jersey numbers on them. We ruled the world.
And we still do. Ask any one of us, and we'll tell you. Even your two Aunties who weren't on the team, but became the best Super Fans of all time remember those days and that team.
So yes, longest story short. I hope for you what I hoped for me.
Have a team. Meet your people. Find your niche.
Ballet, speech, Habitat for Humanity, band, soccer, ceramics.
I don't care.
Just find it.