I’m trying to figure out whether it’s my aging or the impending end of my basketball career that brings me these feelings. Perhaps it’s both. In many ways, this intersection, this union of sports and youth, is a perfect match. Two entities destined for a fleeting end that one often sees far too late. For myself, the difference is I’ve seen this end, known about it, thought about it far longer, far in advance of it ever seeming real. I think you have a different perspective when you know it’s not forever, no matter how hard you work and wish to preserve things, moments, your body, memories of childhood, time dribbles on--pounding up the court or the empty neighborhood street you’d practice on. Sure, there were moments when I was lost in nostalgia, but I was always jarred back to reality by visits to family members that’d grown older, mature, new nephews, then new niece, by aching body parts, by injuries. Sometimes these things are so difficult to accept, you think maybe it’s time to give in--go with flow. Whatever it is, perhaps this is what I’m trying to understand, basketball or life, my youth, or maybe an older me that I’m not ready to become, that keeps pulling me back. It says there’s no rush to get there, but in many ways, having been thinking about “there” and that person, I feel that I’ve already arrived. The destination not being a physical place, but a state of mind--of understanding that you choose what you, and who you will become. That said, without basketball, something that acted as a time chamber, a space capsule to another world, another galaxy where time ran much faster relative to the real world, a place where I could seemingly live an entire adulthood, or rather entire part my life, experience so many life lessons in such a short time, perhaps I’d think very differently right now. I’m 28 now, and while I feel as young as ever, I realize the time is approaching to let basketball go. I’m now much closer to the end of my basketball career than ever. And sure, I guess that’s true everyday except when we first start playing. Forget my days when I didn’t know what I was doing, from when I figured basketball would be my spaceship in highschool to now, five years into a professional career. That’s twelve or thirteen years. I look around now knowing I’m not a rookie, understanding the ropes, yet still learning from true vets, still experiencing things for the first time. And I sit and I think and feel myself in a transition. Away from home and real life enough to have watched friendships and connections fade, yet not quite thirty, with no real “adult” responsibilities. It’s like some perfectly scary flux or equilibrium, some limbo that I’ve stopped in, given the pleasure to look around in both directions as far as the eye can see before accelerating into the next phase. So naturally, it feels like an appropriate place to start writing about life, youth and its coupling with its partner basketball--that’s been there the entire ride now ready to detach.
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