Yesterday. Defeated and exhausted I resorted to the one drug that’s been keeping me high all summer– exercise. El Toro High School is my evening shoot up, with its shady racket ball courts and newly re-furbished turf. I have the summer turf field availability schedule, along with hundreds of ET emails I’ve exchanged with the school, parents, and players this summer, but did not think the place would be practically empty… save a large group of Hispanic siblings? cousins? Kids. Just kids. And a lone father, who you’d pity if it weren’t for the smile he wore that told you he was genuinely enjoying family time. The gang had laid claim on the wall ball courts to play handball with miniature, rubber balls. I doubted where I could fit in to bang out a few wall ball reps. I do not have patience for my own family these days, but seeing one of their youngest, cutest, sitting in the middle of the courts, miraculously avoiding all the flying balls and bodies, made me smile. They scattered and opened a court for me without a word. I checked my gait to see if I looked snotty enough to own the place. I finished sets of wall ball shyly, trying not to show off my FABULOUS lacrosse stick skills. The one they called Junior could not keep his eyes off me. My most intimate friends know my one life goal. I came close that day, being basically adopted into a Hispanic family and all. Before I knew it, I was playing the VERY difficult game of handball with some new friends, Junior was trying out my lacrosse stick, and I was having a human moment I haven’t had all year, despite being surrounded by so many good..and bad… people. The daughter, Brenda, was in 7th grade and I got excited about getting her into lacrosse. I gave them contacts eagerly, maybe faking what they could smell. While I doubt no human being for the potential I strongly believe each one has, thoughts of expensive lacrosse gear, club fees, sports physicals, commutes, bullies, and more weighed heavy as I left the Huerta family I’d probably never see again, feeling the familiar sad/happy mix I’ve known for all my life.


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