waving back at me;
droopy on their frail
The bushy bulk
for the just browning trunk,
taking its first
waving back at me;
droopy on their frail
The bushy bulk
for the just browning trunk,
taking its first
I heard my heart pounding as I slowly walked up the stairs dragging my feet along each cold, hard step one by one. On the way to my bedroom, I began to replay the words of my father that ruined my hope for a good 9th birthday.
You can hardly take care of yourself, what makes you think that you can take care of animal? There are more reasons beyond that sweetie, reasons you would just never understand at your age. A dog is just not an option for us this year, your mother and I are sorry. I was the type of person who didn’t ask for much unless it was Christmas or my birthday. So once my birthday came around, I finally got the courage to ask my parents for what I had been dreaming about ever since I was a little girl. A puppy. I fell in love with the idea of having a puppy one rainy, spring day when I was 6 years old. My mommy needed to stop at the grocery store on the way home from picking me up from school so I tagged along with her. As we got out of the car, I noticed something moving behind a tree near the store. Out of curiosity, I ran to the tree with my navy rain boots squeaking after me each step of the way. I heard my mom yelling after me telling me to come back but I did not listen. I slowly approached the tree and saw a dog all alone rolling around in the grass. My first instinct was to call my mom over to me to come look. As she ran to where I was, I yelled out to her and said,
“Mommy! Look! It’s a dog all alone out in the rain. Can we take her home? Please?,”
She explained to me that a dog that was all alone like this was called a stray dog. She didn’t want to take the dog back to our house and post signs around the area because there was no guarantee that the owner of this small Chihuahua would call. Instead, my mom wanted to make sure the dog was healthy and then drop it dog off at a dog shelter. As we rode in the car to get to the vet, the puppy laid in my lap. Her tiny brown paws rested on the seat while her head was rested on my soggy pants that the rain soaked up. I stroked her smooth, thin fur during the whole car ride. That was the first time I had ever held a dog in my entire life. I temporarily named her Lacy so we could give the vet a name. It was in that very moment when I realized that I wanted my own dog to take care of. Even though I just met that dog and I didn’t know the story behind it, I believed it was a sign that I should get a dog. 3 years has passed since I first met Lacy and I still haven’t forgotten about her.
Once I open the door to my room, I walk in and rush to the window. I turned my head to the park that was next to my house and see people walking their dogs. Individuals were always walking their dogs and it never seemed to bother me until I knew it would never be me. I then imagined that as my family. Our dog on a leash, leading the way, while my mom, my dad, and I are behind the puppy feeling laughing at her every move. I soon hear a knock on my door and quickly shut my dusty blinds and snap back into reality. My door cracks open and my father’s head peeks through,
“I want to let you know that I’ll be out of town today and Sunday, but I will be back just in time for your birthday on Monday. Come give me a hug before I go,” He said as if he was trying to sound as if we did not just have a conversation about him ruining my birthday. My dad travels a lot for his job so I am hoping he doesn’t get caught up in his work and forget my birthday. It was bad enough that I wasn’t getting my dream dog, I didn’t want my dad to not be there. I run to him putting on a smile and give him a hug. I figured that being upset with my parents would not help my situation. Although I was upset, I was not going to let this define me. My mother once told me that it isn’t about how you act when you everything, but how you react when you have nothing.
The weekend went by pretty fast. My mom and I spent the whole day together on Sunday going shopping as an early birthday present. Once we got back to the house, I knew I was definitely not getting a dog. I was learning to be okay with that but I suddenly lost control. My feet had a mind of their own and rushed up the steps. I slammed the door shut quiet enough so that my mom wouldn’t hear, but strong enough that a picture on my wall fell down, blowing to an empty corner of my room. My eyes began to water and soon enough, I felt a tear drop down my hurt face. One came after another and I began to just let it all out instead of hiding it in. I felt a connection with Lacy. Although she was just a dog, I wanted to tell her everything. I never got that chance and now that I am not getting a dog, I never will. After drawing from an old coloring book to relax myself, I climbed into bed. Anxiety filled my stomach about how tomorrow was going to turn out. My thoughts soon faded into nothing and I felt my eyes shut slowly.
The next morning began with my mother bursting into my room singing happy birthday to me. My smile brightened as I became more and more awake. She handed me a tray of orange juice, bacon, and pancakes, my favorite. Everything looked amazing! Only one thing was missing-my father. I gave my mom a big hug and right before I was about to ask where my dad was, I heard singing from down the hall,
“Happy birthday to you…” my father began to sing.
“Daddy?” I asked shocked that he actually made it in time.
“Hi princess,” my dad started as his voice got closer and closer. As he walked into the room he chuckled and said, “You really don’t think I could’ve forgotten about your birthday, do you?”
“Of course not, daddy. Thank you so much.” I said trying to focus on the good and not the fact that I had no dog. I thought back to my weekend reminding myself that I will do just fine without a new puppy.
“Oh how could I forget,” my father began to quickly walk out of the door. “I found you something on the road trip home,” he said sounding eager.
My mom suddenly pulled out her video camera out of her blue jean pocket and I just sat on my bed looking confused. I was thinking that maybe he got me a key chain or something on his way home. My mom pointed the video camera towards the narrow door as my dad joyfully walked back into my bedroom. Once I got a glimpse of what my mom was filming, I felt my heart melt. I froze and thought back to the first time I saw Lacy. Immediately, I pushed my breakfast aside and dove into the smooth carpet. A petite, unstable puppy was sniffing around the ground getting used to our new home. She had a brown tiny head that poked out of her soft, small black body. I was in shock- complete shock. I didn’t know what to ask my parents because so many questions filled up inside of my head. I tried to ask them something but nothing would come out of my mouth. When I landed next to my new puppy, she rolled on the ground expecting me to rub her stomach. She only looked about a few months old and I could already tell that she was so much different than Lacy. She was so much fuller of energy and surprisingly, I liked it. Nothing had ever felt so unreal in my entire life. After rubbing her stomach, I picked her up and gently held her in my arms. I couldn’t help but glance at my parents grinning faces and the video camera my mother was still holding. I glanced back down at my new puppy struggling to get out of my arms to discover more about the new world that stood in front of her. Before setting her down, I brought her close to me, whispered to her and said,
“I’m going to call you Charmaine and I will love you forever.”
The air was becoming brisk and the sun was setting over the horizon. It was a close game and tension and excitement was running high in the dugout. Strike one, strike two, strike three, and back out to the field we went. I had just gotten a new glove and I was really excited to use it before the game. So far in the game the stiffness of the glove didn’t affect me that much, I had made a couple of plays and I didn’t even really notice it.
This inning looked to be the same after I made an easy play, one out. The next batter takes a couple of pitches and eventually draws a walk, one out runner on first. The double play was in check and I was expecting the ball to come my way. Indeed the ball found its way to me but not in the form that I’d expected. A dinky little pop-up to my left. Since I’d been playing up the middle for a double play, I had to engage in a full sprint to try and get the ball. I tracked it down and I realized that it would be close so I’d have to dive. Meanwhile in all of this the runner on first was confused as to where he should be and everyone in the dugout, the coaches and the rowdy parents were screaming. I make my leap and in my perspective it looked like I was going to catch it and hopefully double the runner off at first. I took my eye off the ball for one little fraction of a second and I lost the ball. It hits my glove with a thud and because my glove was still stiff I couldn’t squeeze it well enough for me to hold on. The ball found its way out of my grasp and trickled away. I quickly got up and tossed the ball to first but it was too late, a missed opportunity that could’ve just cost my team the game. To say the least I was furious, I slapped my hand against my thigh and started kicking the dirt. A blown opportunity, nothing made me madder. My teammates and coaches tried to signal to me that it was okay and I didn’t need to worry about it and just make the next play, but I knew the stakes and I knew that that silly little mistake was unacceptable. I wanted revenge, to redeem myself at my next at bat. I kept that at bat on my mind while the next batter stepped to the plate. I was praying that my mistake wouldn’t lead to a run but it didn’t work. The next batter lined a single to the outfield and by the time the throw got in the cutoff man the runner had already trotted home and was on his way back to the dugout to celebrate with his teammates. Now I’m even more furious, but to our luck our pitcher struck out the next couple of batters and sent us back to the dugout to get ready to hit.
When I finally reach the dugout I throw my glove as hard as I can down at my bag and a quickly strap on my batting gloves, put on my helmet and get ready to hit. I study the tall lanky pitcher very closely as I’m taking my warm up swings because I need to get every advantage possible. I noticed he didn’t throw anything too overpowering and he didn’t throw too slow to the point where my timing would be messed up. We both knew what was on the line and neither of us wanted to mess it up for our team. During all of this the coach comes up to me and whispers in my ear, “Rip one.” I take my last couple of swings and walk to the plate.
I step into the box and stare down the pitcher in the eyes with a pure look of hatred. He goes into his windup and I don’t particularly like the pitch so I take it, ball one. I step out of the box, take a warm up swing and look down the third base line for the sign. Swing away the coach motions and I give a quick nod to show I got it and I step into the box and get ready for the next pitch. The pitcher delivers the ball, and in my view the ball looks high but the umpire disagrees. Strike one, and the count sits one and one. This time I don’t step out of the box as I gear for the next pitch. The ball comes and it’s middle in, perfect. I take my step and swing with all my might and unfortunately I come up empty. The count now sits one and two and I have to protect the plate to the best of my ability to prevent a strikeout. Once again, I call timeout, and take a deep breath as well as a quick warm up swing before I step back into the box.
The next pitch the pitcher makes a very weak attempt at a curve ball and the ball sails over my head just about hitting me. I quickly sprawl in the dirt and quickly pop up and give the smirking pitcher a nasty look. Two and two shouts the ump as I gear up for the next pitch. Again the pitcher misses badly as the ball sails to the fence and ump coughs, “Three and two! Three and two!” Three and two, I think to myself this will be the best pitch I will see this whole at bat and I need to take advantage of it. The pitcher winds up and the balls comes middle in, another opportunity to do some damage. I start my swing and the drive the bat threw the zone and I hear a bang. I smashed that ball I thought to myself.
Immediately, I take off for first as fast as I can and the first base coach is yelling with enthusiasm, “Go! Go! Go!” The thought of looking to see where the ball was going didn’t even enter my mind as I headed for second. Just when I was about to reach second I see my third base coach motioning for me to bypass third and go all the way home. Due to the coaches over exaggeration of telling me to advance I thought it might have been a double in the gap but after I crossed home I realized that all that wasn’t necessary, it was a home run and a tie game. I had succeeded and I couldn’t have been happier as I trotted back to the dugout with a huge smile on my face.
When I reached the dugout all of my teammates slapped me on the back and helmet and told me that I’d came up clutch for them and the team. I sat down took a deep breath and tried to process what just happened, I had hit a game-tying home run. I said “Wow that felt good.” When I finally decided to look up again, I notice that the guys behind me had hit two doubles in a row, another run! Now we had the lead with the score of two to one. We had derailed the pitcher and the other teams train was coming off the tracks. I look up again and my best friend hits a triple and now we have the lead three to one. I jump of the bench and start cheering and yelling at the opposing pitcher. All the pitcher does in slump down and frown to himself, we had defiantly gotten to him. During this inning we go on to score four more runs to make the score a staggering seven to one in favor of us. In all of the excitement I forget that it’s getting cold and I quickly slip on my long sleeve shirt under my jersey and hustle back out to my position, but before I go there my coach stopped me.
“Nice hit there kid, that’s what we really needed. Now, let’s finish these guys off and win this game right here right now.” Coach slapped me on the back and sent me on my way.
“Thanks and sounds like a plan.” I replied.
After this conversation I hustle back to my position and a take a deep breath, by now it’s cold enough that I can see my breath. I hop up and down like a rabbit to keep warm but as the pitch is about to be thrown I settle into my ready position as I await the ball. The ball wasn’t hit to me in the inning. We earned an easy three outs to end the game. We had won the game, and everyone was yelling in excitement. We quickly shake hands with the other team and rush to heat as we were beginning to lose feeling in our fingers.
While on the packed, humid bus headed to camp Miniwanca, I had one thing on my mind, the massive cabin leader versus camper soccer game. I was a 13 year old, eager middle school camper returning for my second year. As I stepped out of the blazing hot bus, and stepped into the refreshing, crisp air of Michigan I was immediately greeted by exuberant cabin leaders. I checked in was told my cabin number, cabin leader, and had my mandatory cell phone turn in and lice check. After all of this I unpacked my stuff, set up my bed, and met my cabin mates. We all then, headed up to Bryant field, a tremendous beautiful open grass lot surrounded by trees to play some World Cup (a soccer game) and get to know other campers.
After a week and a half of playing soccer nonstop and getting to know everyone as players the day finally came, we were fully prepared to take on the leaders. All day the game was being hyped up all around camp and when time game, it was game on. It was a breezy, cool evening, sun still shining but the air felt full of excitement and anticipation, before we started I quickly laced up my old, dirty, beat-up pink and black Nike soccer cleats. After we went over the rules for the game, we were finally about to begin. I quickly went over to my teammates to help assign positions, I was playing forward. When I realized that there were 40 campers but only 14 cabin leaders playing, I knew this was going to be a hard game.
The cabin leaders kicked off the game, and were already up a goal within five minutes, after a LIT blasted a shot into the right side of the goal. We were all shocked and I felt that the mood of my teammates was somber, and defeated as if we already lost the game, but I didn’t give up. Fifteen long minutes passed we started to warm up, and strung some passes together to get off three or four shots but the goalie was like a brick wall and stopped every shot we took. Then suddenly, after a hard tackle from our defender, the fastest and the best soccer players on my team was on a breakaway, but the leaders were gaining on him. Someone yelled, “Cross!!” He then served the ball of balance and it was headed right to me. The ball was coming right at me fast and at my waist, I then turned my body with my shoulders squared to the goal, I was thinking to myself make contact with the ball. I lifted my leg and volleyed the ball on with outside of my foot, it went into the left corner of the net and hit the metal with a loud bang. I scored and I couldn’t believe what I had just done, I imitated one of my favorite player’s famous goal, I was filled with joy. I was met in the middle of the soccer field with hugs in celebration from both campers and leaders, and couldn’t believe what I just done.
I had only tied the game, but the goal lifted the mood from my team and there was a sudden burst of confidence and momentum. After few shots on goal from both teams, I had another opportunity, a leader and camper both attempted to kick the ball but instead the ball went really high into the air, right outside of the opposing team’s box. I stepped up again thinking I need to make some type of contact. I got ready to kick the ball and as soon as I made contact with the ball, I knew that it was going in. The ball curved right into the middle of the goal, blowing right pass the keeper, we then had the lead. I scored two sick volleys in one game, I again celebrated with my team, and I felt both shocked and proud of myself. But the game wasn’t over, we still had more time left.
A leader immediately scored another tap-in goal to give them the tie, the game was then 2-2. I felt was if the game was ending soon, probably because the sun was setting and the brisk Michigan air was starting to affect us. But I the heat came back into my body after the cabin leaders scored off a free kick from outside of the box, I was anxious we were going to lose. We kicked off the game and the boys’ camp director, Adam yelled, “TWO MIUTES LEFT, TWO MINUTES LEFT IN THE GAME!!” It was crunch time, now or never, we sent all of the best shooters to the attacking portion of the field, and the defenders up to midfield. We won a corner kick and I was set to take it everyone was in the box, I held up my hand and proceeded to kick the ball from the corner flag. At first I thought I got under the ball too much and it was going to sail over the goal, but it curved right in front of the keeper, I watched as the ball bounced around, and around, which felt like it was bouncing around for hours. Then I heard someone kick the ball and then ball go into the net, we scored, the game ended a 3-3 draw. I was happy with the tie because of my two goals, while walking back to my cabin to go to bed, I was given many compliments and was even named MVP of the game. When I was back in my cabin and we were all lying down, I could faintly hear my cabin mates talking about the next day, but I was still excited about telling all of family and friends about the big game.
It was a very cloudy day with 100% of rain, I was in the sky blue painted, 4 Year Old Room right across the hall from the Pre-K Room and Lot a Luv day care center. At the time I really didn’t care that it was going to rain, as a matter of fact I kind of liked rain so there was really no problem. Until I heard a crash of thunder and I got scared. My teacher had told me to stay calm and everything will be ok, but it didn’t work. I told her I wanted my mom and to go home, so she called my mom. But there was no answer. So I sat there and put my head down and tried not to think about the storm.
My teachers turned on the local news to see what was going on in the cubicle with the TV in it. I couldn’t really understand what the weather man was saying. Then she and my other teacher got an alert on her phone. The alert read… “There is a severe thunderstorm in the STL area find shelter now! Stay away from doors and windows. Find shelter now!” After I read that alert I lost it, it went to screaming, crying, then to again screaming. My teacher asked me to be quiet. I didn’t listen then she TOLD me to be quite. I didn’t listen, she finally asked me if I wanted to go to my aunt who was the “Principal” to make me feel better I said yes.
We got there and Aunt Burns was watching the news on her T.V. “Hi!” Aunt Burns said. “Elijah is having trouble with the storm and he would like to stay in your office.” Aunt Burns laughed and said. “I can’t have an Elijah stay in my office for something as silly as a storm, but if you would like Elijah I can call your mom if you want.” I said ok and Ms. Tasha and I went back to the classroom. We I got back I checked to see if the storm had settled down, but when I had got to the window the lights started to flicker… A few seconds later they were out I got super scared and all the other kids did too. My teachers said to once again stay calm but this time they were talking to the entire class. Some students calmed down and others didn’t, I was one of the students who didn’t calm down, and the worst part was that all my friends had left and gone home which made even worse.
20 minutes went by and the lights were still turned off and the storm was still getting worse. I was still scared with the other kids and screaming, suddenly there was ringing in my ear I really didn’t know where it was coming from with all the crying and screaming. I listened closely and the noise sounded familiar. A few moments later Ms. Tasha yelled out “go to the bathroom!” I finally realized that it wasn’t a ringing it was the tornado sirens. Ms. Tasha told us to pray and we will be ok, everyone prayed including Ms. Tasha and Ms. Shantay. The sirens went off and were directed to be seated by Aunt Burns. Another kid and I named Raunel lost it and started to run around the classroom like crazy people. Our teachers told us to sit down but we refused, and started to climb on the old wooden cubies that had a red stain on it from me spilling Cool-AID earlier that month. Ms. Shantay yelled and told us to get down… but it wasn’t until the third time we got down. She said we had a time out and couldn’t get up until we were told. So Raunel and I sat down and in the two burgundy chairs in the corner by the fish tank. Raunel sat down and said he wanted to take one of the fish in the tank home, and told me to pinky swear not to tell the teacher. And of course I told on him. Raunel got furious and started to kick Ms. Shantay and said that “I was going to regret what I did”.
By that time his mom was there. She was wearing high heels and lots of make-up and smelled like Steak n Shake, she reminded me of a clown in one of those scary haunted houses. Ms. Shantay told the lady what her son had did and the lady got and started to curse out Ms. Shantay for saying her kid was causing trouble. Right behind her was my dad and I was so relieved to see him, because it looked like the storm was getting weaker.
Unexpectedly my dad walked me outside and said to stay calm and everything will be okay. Ms. Shantay also let the other kids go outside but they looked completely fine with it and started to play on the monkey bars and the swing set. The thing that really made it crazy is that it was lightning outside and the kids were playing on medal objects. While I was banging on doors so someone could let me in, but my dad said stop and calm down. He had told me that storm aren’t that bad and you’ll be fine but I didn’t listen and just kept crying and screaming.
10 minutes later Ms. Shantay opened the door and said “now see that wasn’t so bad”. I gave her a stank look and walked away. She laughed and said I’ll see you tomorrow.
The girl stood giving herself a pep talk,
“You’re good at defending, she whispered to herself, “Just concentrate on that.”
As soon as the play started it was as though she was playing in the spotlight of a pitch black gym, only the others on the court existed. Suddenly she found herself, as if by magic, with the ball, and her earlier fantasies of just defense were put to flight. Half panicked, she looked around for an open teammate and found everyone, including herself, defended. She forced herself to drop the ball from her hand and step forward, acutely aware that every bounce put the ball in a position of peril. The giant crowding her reeked of sweat that reminded her of the determination she knew both teams had.
Finally the girl passed the ball to her now open teammate in the white and green and noticed that her teammate was in position to jeopardize the basket’s sense of serenity. The attention on the court was on the ball. The girl’s teammate jumped and shot. The ball went up… and up… and up… spiraling through the air for what seemed like an eternity, before it finally plunged downward, hitting the backboard with a thwack and ricocheting through the orange hoop below.
Finally the girl heard the screams of the fans and the players’ families. She took only a moment to feel pride in her assist before she was off, her duty to her team never forgotten.
It was a regular night in summer, it was almost back to school. Like most kids I hadn’t finished my summer reading yet. My boxing experience all started with a mouth guard I had bought from the school store. I was about to go to bed but before that I picked up the mouth guard.
My mom asked “do you want to box or something?”
I jokingly said “yes”.
The next couple of days my mom researched boxing clubs and boxing the sport, she called the boxing clubs that sounded the most interesting. My adventure started as soon as a walked into the boxing club. I remember meeting a man named Joe as soon as a walked into the boxing club. I took a private lesson with him just to get a feeling of what the boxing club was like. After the lesson he gave my mom more information about the club and the prices. I just wanted to start training.
After seeing the iconic boxer Rocky Balboa played by Sylvester Stallone, I was inspired and more importantly motivated to get off the couch and do something for myself, make a title, something like that. I remember a very meaningful and touching quote:
“If you know what your worth, then go out and get what your worth”
There were many more bold and fascinating quotes, but this quote stuck with me. I had always been a little shy and never wanted to be the lead role in something. I never wanted to be in a play or be the first man offense side in soccer, and sometimes I didn’t want to raise my hand in class because I was scared to get something wrong and look even more of what people would think.
After watching Rocky, reading his quote, and even starting to train with Joe lots of the annoyance of reluctance and shyness slowly went away.
Training with Joe was great especially when he was around, a month into boxing. He was promoted to manager of the boxing club. The meant he had a lot more responsibilities to the company, and I knew that meant sacrificing responsibilities other places.
After seeing Joe like three to four times a week for about a month, the sessions were cut down to only two a week, I was still happy I got to train with him, but I was still needing something else to build my body, because seeing a personal trainer only two times a week for about an hour each session is not going to build a strong body.
I finally decided to train a lot on my own and started training with weights. After training with Joe for two times a week and training a lot on my own felt more physically and mentally fit. After two months said I was getting really good and that he saw lots and lots of improvement.
After a while I could really feel the hardship mentally and physically in boxing or in my own training, it sometimes hurt and sometimes I even wanted to quit, but I remembered that it was changing me for the better. I learned and am still learning to this day that anything is possible if you try and give it a chance.
I felt better about myself and life. I had to ask him the question of:
“When am I going to start sparring?”
Joe said something along the lines of I think you’re improving, but I don’t think your quite ready for fighting yet. He also reminded me he promised my mom that he wouldn’t put me in the ring if he didn’t think I was one hundred percent ready.
After all most three months of working with Joe, I stopped not because I wanted to stop. It was because the company had different views and a different future, and there were lots of complications.
He was forced to start teaching the fitness classes at the boxing club, instead of what he wanted to do most which was actually train people how to box. Unfortunately for him, the fitness classes were not actually boxing, it was just a regular fitness class and the style of it was boxing.
My mom kept researching boxing gyms, after the first week she found one have very good online reviews. So the next night we came to see it. I meat a trainer named Andy, it looked nice and felt okay, but it was a group class and it was really far away from my house and my mom was just not willing to drive me out fifty miles to that boxing gym. So that boxing gym was mainly out of the picture.
About a month and a half after seeing the group class boxing gym, Joe called and said he really wanted to train me, and said I will try to make it work. We’ll it did but with one minor change, Joe would come to my house and train me on my own time.
I am still really motivated and inspired by the Rocky movies, and it doesn’t hurt to watch one now and then. Whenever I get in front of a boxing bag or think of boxing I will always remember the Rocky Balboa quote: “if you know what your worth then go out and get what your worth”. Boxing has really changed the way I think and feel about myself, and has changed my life for the better. To this day I still train and hope to one day be my own boxing champion.