Something so simple, so unimpressive, so Nothing washed a sea of memories over me today. I was walking with Luke. Our daily walk from Hannah’s bus stop back home. We often meander to the end of a long, tree lined access road near our house to visit a lonely, empty, yellow digger truck often parked there. As we walked today, with Luke holding onto my pointer finger feeling too proud to hold my entire hand, a splash of red in my peripheral vision caught my eye. I turned and spotted one of those textured red rubber balls that we all became familiar with at some point in our lives. It had rolled under a bush and left abandoned there. I stuck my foot under the bush and pulled the ball out from its cover.
It was wet and dirty from the rain it had endured last night and this morning. But it still brought a smile to my face. I kicked it over to Luke. Who let it bounce it off his calves and then dribbled it toward the truck, losing interest in it as the truck overtook his attention.
I picked the ball up in my hands. The feel of it reminded me of the dozens (hundreds?) of days spent in the school gyms playing dodge ball with these balls. Whipping them at the opposing team trying to knock them out of play. Catching them as they were hurled at me, proud to be one of the girls who could actually catch.
I bounced the ball on the cement. The ease and height of the rebound brought me to my little girl days on the playground lifting my leg in a circle over the ball as it bounced reciting, “A my name is Alice and my boyfriend’s name is Al. I come from Arizona and I like to sell Apples! B my name is Betty…” and on and on through the alphabet.
I even was overwhelmed with the familiarity of the SOUND of the bounce. Free time at sleep away camp playing Four Square (the ORIGINAL four square, with the 4 squares and a ball. Not the ridiculous “Everyone must care where I am at all moments in my day” social networking site) with my bunk mates. Hours in those squares with that ball. Laughter. Easy fun. Winning. Losing. Exhaustion.
I rolled the ball towards Luke. Hoping he’d get excited to play some more. As it left my hand on the ground, I was brought back to elementary school. Kickball. Hoping to get picked for a team earlier rather than later. Excitement to be the one up to “bat”. Nerves shaking as the ball rolled toward me. Hoping to kick it into the outfield. Over Timmy Lambert’s head to impress him with my mad skills.
That red ball. Not made for any sport in particular. Designed for all of them. Created for fun. To throw, catch, kick, bounce, hurl, jump over and roll. I left that red ball where I found it. Hoping that whoever lost it, would make as many memories with it as I did. Hoping it wasn’t ditched for a Gameboy, Wii or cellphone but instead forgotten about as they were called in for dinner. Hoping it would be retrieved with relief that it was still there.
I need to get me one of those red balls.