I remember playing football and loving it. Choose to believe me or not, but I wasn't half bad. Now when I was young, about 10 or 11, I still had quite the imagination. And combined with my love for sports, especially the real football, American football, my imagination transported me directly into the game.
It used to be when I'd get home from school the only thing I'd want to do--really wanted, maybe needed for when you're that young want and need aren't easily discernible--was to go straight outside, see the field in front of our little apartment and run wild like the game was made for me. Yes, I was a shy boy, and maybe there was a lack of young neighborhood boys with spirited imaginations, but it would just be me outside, under the waning sun running back and forth with a little rubber football tucked under my arm; no one else, just me. When I was there, I really saw the field. Not just that the field was transformed into an arena with lights and a crowd and goalposts and real colors, but that I saw the field. I saw the field with the opposition there whose only goal it was to stop my team. But they failed to see me. They failed to see me for who I was. The talent, the glory, the ability hidden in this young body, just ready, ready for the right moment to let it all out. I would see them seeing me as incapable, but what I saw, what I saw was a chance to show how capable I really was.
I honestly can't imagine what all those people, all the families and such that lived in that apartment complex thought. Man. I was constantly running back and forth with no one else around. Just back and forth, spinning, juking, weaving, as if the imaginary was the real. I did this for hours. I would run up the steps to my home, get some water, a snack, maybe even an inspirational push from the sports on the tv, but then I'd be back out there, running, to most it looked without aim, but for me, it was with purpose. For me, my team was losing, our hopes were at the brink of falling, falling by losing. Close enough, and I was there, as time dwindled out, to save; be the hero, be the savior, be the athlete whose team on the brink of failure showed pure genius and will to pull his team out of that abyss of failure. Alright, maybe thats a bit much, but I just wanted to prove myself and win. So I'd take the hand-off or field the punt, and I would be off. The key would be to make it to the sideline. But to get there you'd have to get through the first onslaught of would-be tacklers. That would require a juke or two; and when at the last second when a tackler would be about to wrap you up for the take-down, a spin move, a quick jolting revolution, using the legs to break free, and again for the sideline. If I could just make it to the edge, I could outrun them. I could beat them. Everyday, back and forth I went
One time I remember I was doing the same. I think it was a saturday, for I had been playing all day. College football had been on, and Michigan with there blue and gold jerseys gave me the energy to just want to run for days. And as I was a playing, I noticed an older kid skating down the alley adjacent to the field. He was skating, when I first noticed, a bit away, but he was skating my way and would be next to me soon. So I was a bit self-conscious, I mean I knew there was a bit of incredibility for a kid to just run back and forth indefinitely with no real game or teams or fans or even goals. I was insecure, and I tried to play it cool. Make that other kid believe I'm just practicing; yeah that's it, I'm just practicing. The boy kept skating and got closer and closer until finally he was skating next to me and my field. He stopped his board and got off. He headed directly for me and I was scared shitless. What was he going to say? What was he going to do? "Hey, if you want it to work, its all in your feet." I was still scared and still terribly self-conscious. "In the feet." He grabbed me by the shoulders and shook me. "This does nothing, but if you really want it to work, give me one way with your shoulders and feet, then you can juke the other way. Look, I'll show you." And then for the next couple minutes, he showed me how to really shake defenders and really work the ball with my whole body. And then he got on his board and skated off. That was it, matter-of-factly and then off.
I never became anything too noteworthy, but honestly, I wasn't that bad. I used to love playing football at Jonathan Klem's house. There'd be a few kids in the apartment complex, and we'd just get together in this little dusty courtyard field, next to the jungle-gym and pool, and just play. There was the this mexican kid, Jesse, he had a mullet and a pretty good arm. I wasn't a bad quarterback either, tight spiral, not enough distance, solid accuracy, but I couldn't play both positions. So when Jesse and I were on the same team, there was no hope for the opposition. I mean we made the other kids look really stupid. And I liked Jesse, for where he was just doing it to have fun and play, I was doing it to win and compete. I wanted to win and Jesse wanted to play. And when I ran with the ball, I was an elusive little guy. All the "practice" had paid off. I was able to weave through defenders, see where I wanted to go, and when adversity came from nowhere, I was able to elude it with my ability and will. Every-now-and-again I really got rocked. I remember one time, I couldn't move my forearm all day. If I even tried to move it from a cradle position it would sting all the way to the top of my neck. But that was just one day out of the many.
When I played organized football, with jerseys and cleats, I was never given the opportunity to play the position I adored. Maybe the glasses, maybe the shyness, but no coach asked me to tuck that ball and run. But when it came to drills. I wanted to show those coaches and those other players who had no clue what I really could do. When tackling drills came around, the goal was not to become a better defensemen and hone in on my tackling skills. No, it was to fuck kids up and make them look stupid, unable to do the drill, unable to tackle, tackle me. To spin off a tackle; to shake a kid out of his shoes. I'm sorry Dave, but there was one instance I remember particularly, where David Ritchie and I were squared up and his only job was to wrap me up. He had no chance; repeat and repeat. I just saw it before he did; I knew where I wanted to go, and he had no clue how to stop me.
I was walking through the park the other day. It was a gloomy fall day. Cool and wet. I saw some kids playing football. Two-below no tackle. I took the time to stop and watch. One boy was the talent, really quick and too elusive for his friends. He was the superstar of the group and the rest were really just playing for the fun of it. I tried to insert myself in that picture. Put some shorts on and a t-shirt, join them and start running. Which one would I be? How could I keep up? I didn't stay too long, for I had somewhere to be. But those kids just had to play and for them, that was their job.
I didn't know it initially, but when I left Texas, when I left my home in Amarillo, I sacrificed the idea of "home." I honestly came to New York with the ideals of creating a new home or redefining Remoy within the sanctity of a new home. And maybe, to others and, at times, even to myself, I may have succeeded. But most of the time, all I can help but feel is a freedom of transience. It has its negative qualities which are really too difficult to reveal unless you've done the same. Jason knows. To metaphorically say what I feel is to say that my roots are too far grown to ever plant anywhere again. It's as if the big lights are on me again, and the world doesn't believe or maybe just can't see it in me, but I know where I have to run, or maybe all I can do is just fuckin' run. I've practiced long and hard, I've been taught by both life and people inherently involved, and now I'm just waiting for the ball again. This time I'll run and run and run and just keep running.