Tonight – Darrel (Team Black)

Because it’s fun.

Really, when it comes down to it, sure, that’s the answer. That’s why I wanted to play tonight. That’s why I was looking forward to it all week.

But I don’t get to play tonight.

I have a barista shift at 7:30am tomorrow. I had a long day ahead of me today with a lunch shift, a rehearsal and a meeting. I also have that desk to organize, those dishes to wash, that thing to vacuum, my schedule to put in, that projector to rent, this thing to do and that thing to see.

So. I can’t play tonight.

Why do I care? I shouldn’t. It’s a stupid game. I’m not even that good. I can’t help but think, though of all the times I said no to playing basketball for reasons I can’t remember. It makes me think of the last game I played when I got that pass from that guy I don’t really like and made a basket. It makes me think of the last time I’ve been to the gym. It makes me think about the big toe on my right foot that sometimes just hurts for no reason. I think about that hurt creeping up onto the rest of my legs and not being able to walk. I think about that book I started reading two weeks ago, Kafka on the Shore, and I’m still on page 3. I think about the birthday gift I didn’t get my sisters yet. The email I won’t be able to send. The weird fight I had. The groceries I need to do. The rest of the house I need to paint. This thing I won’t get to proofread. That bill I need to pay. The money I have to pay back. The buddy who might not be my buddy anymore if I don’t call them back.

I can go on but I got my answer. Why do I care? I got it half way through my last paragraph around the same time I switched verb tenses.

When I play basketball, I don’t have to think, at least not about “the things that are important”. My brain and body just go. They talk to each other like they never get to do any more. A whole other language is spoken and everything else disappears. And when you stop thinking about “the things that are important” you start feeling the things you don’t feel anymore. I start feeling things that life kind of just forced out of …well…life. Connection is one of them. Feeling that connected with a stranger who is no longer a stranger when they become your teammate and they pass you that one beautiful pass, you never really feel that kind of connection anymore in “real life”. I start feeling in control. There’s no other feeling like control. In a game that is so improvisational, when everything else in the world is just so out of control, to have that feeling for even just a little bit is just indescribable. Then the sweat starts to come down your face. The moment you notice that is the moment you feel that desire to win. You feel so close to doing something that you don’t legitimately do on a daily basis. This super concentrated unquestionable feeling of winning, when the sweat starts to drip, tells you it’s attainable. No matter how far you are away, points wise, from winning, with basketball anything and everything becomes possible.

And that’s the answer.

But, I don’t get to play tonight.