Jan. 30, 2013
“We are now boarding zones 1 and 2. Zones 1 and 2 only.”
Ugh. I pulled out my crumpled boarding pass from out of my coat pocket. The thickly inked number 6 in the right corner of the ticket fueled my annoyance. Another long flight back to the East Coast. What a drag, I thought, smashing the ticket back into my pocket.
I took a slurp from my overly priced airport McDonalds soda and glanced around at gate H18. Hulse and Kris were in the corner, frantically arguing whether the outside hitter on Harvard hits line or angle in transition. Daliege was explaining to the old couple on their way to Florida that despite his height, we were not a basketball team. Yonka was sitting Indian-style against the window of the gate, reading a book from his list of ‘100 Greatest Novels of the 20th Century.’ Dainis was in the chair across from me, scratching off lotto tickets, pumping endless dollars into the lottery machine.
“Come on. Come on. Big money,” he said, over and over as he scratched off two ‘winners.’ Crossing his fingers he hoped for a third. It never came.
This is the usual sight. Every trip. Every airport. We know what to expect from each other. It is sort of a ‘preparation before battle’ ritual that we perform, without knowing, every time we walk through O’Hare’s sliding glass doors.
I am injured, and out for the season, but I know that this ritual will continue. In a way, I feel like I am there with them as they annoy Hulse in car rides, or make the rookies use coloring books at dinner. It’s a form of tradition that keeps this team afloat. If all fails, and we come back from our tournament empty-handed, we know that Jasaitis will be there to tell us how we improved, and Nail will be giving everyone high-fives. It is our strong bond that makes us a team. It is knowing what to expect from each other that makes us a family.