“Do you want to go to the park?” asked Mom, rousing me from my slumber.
“Sure,” I responded groggily, sitting up on a cot in the room that was once mine.
We got The Beast ready for transport, struggling to tame her enthusiasm.
She may only weigh 35 lbs, but she’s all muscle.
Once we arrived at the park, the massive amount of cars stuck us as odd. Both parking lots were full. This never happens in our small community park.
Mom didn’t want to check out the Community Center though, so we just headed for the starting line.
Near us was a Black woman with 3 kids. One was named Destiny and the other Leah. I only knew this because she kept yelling at them. Leah ran up ahead of us with a shirt full of rocks, while Destiny lagged behind pushing the stroller. Their mom struggled to keep pace with iPod in hand.
I was still groggy from just waking up, so Destiny became kind of my impromptu walking partner. Even though we didn’t really talk, it was nice being around people in the community.
As I ran to catch up with Mom, I spotted Leah on top of the upcoming hill playing “King of the World”!
“Hi!! ^-^” she waved to the passers-by. “Is that all you got?”
There were few dogs out that evening, but lots and lots of people.
Several soccer teams of various ages gathered in the muggy Southern heat. Nobody seemed to mind though as they paced their way around the mile-long track. The hum of cicadas and crickets serenaded our never-ending journey.
A few football teams had gathered on the field as well, and were beginning their evening practice. The oldest players couldn’t have been more than 8. Can you have nostalgia for the future?
We were never into sports much in my family, but I wonder if my own children will like soccer someday.
Still, I must remind myself not to get too comfortable. The simple pleasures of Southern Life are alluring for many, but they don’t last. I have to remember that The South kills people like us. We have to fight for our dreams, and not fall into the lull of complacency which has become the norm for most people around here. Routine, the familiar, roots. All too common in a place broken…full of broken people who forgot their dreams…
As we neared the end of the track, the cicadas became ever louder. I saw years go by before my eyes, growing up, having children, and bringing them to this same park. I saw the football that surrounds us and the culture that permeates our bones. There weren’t many people who look like me there though. Maybe we’re all leaving. I don’t know.
Besides Leah and her shirt full of rocks, I also saw a middle-aged Black man jumping rope around the track. He made me smile. 🙂
Mom left me by the van as she headed back for one more lap.
The Beast and I headed over to the park bench by the playground. Many Black, Asian, and Hispanic children were playing there. I wondered if one or all of my children would look like them.
An Asian woman cradled her toddler in her arms. In her I saw true love. There really is nothing like motherly love.
A Hispanic family came and sat down at our bench.
The father nodded toward the playground. “Eh?”
“No,” replied the son, shaking his head.
“Por que no?” asked the father.
The boy shrugged and they began to talk to each other in Spanish. Soon his mother joined them.
Soon Mom came and joined me and we headed home. All in all, I’d say it was a pretty interesting day.