Childlike Joy

Nine-years-old, new neighborhood, pretty scared as anyone who has ever moved would know: First day of school, ditto. Fortunately we moved into a mostly Italian neighborhood so I at least had the important vowel at the end of my name.

St. Rita’s a fine Brooklyn Catholic school, boys in white shirts and ties, girls in traditional attire, neat blouses and skirts and anklets. None of us were too happy with the dress code. Being grown-up we would have preferred more streetwise attire. The nuns, special creatures who had free reign to terrorize little kids for the sake of education and God, would have none of that. You either got it right, did it right, behaved right or else! No matter I miss it all, the behavior of the clicker, the attitude adjuster ruler, and even the out of character for most, warm smile of assurance that they were  doing God’s work. I miss it because it was part of growing up.

Baseball played the biggest part in my adopting to my new friends, and in turn them accepting me. Thank God I was pretty good, small for my age but pretty damn good. Faster than most, with good baseball sense made me a commodity for St. Rita’s and other sand lot teams we would go on and play. Memories of good plays, misplays, championships won and lost, all steps in growing up, which is what I did, almost.

The grass under my feet
The thrill of the game
The feeling never leaves
It’s always the same

The outside world fades away
The minute the games begun
Just the smell of grass and glove leather
As I stand in the sun

The crack of the bat
And at once, I’m off like a shot
Like the first time I ever played
I give it all that I’ve got

I feel I’m running like the wind
And catching the ball with pure grace
I return to my position
A huge smile on my face

I look down to the grass
I realize the reason for this joy
For there, in my shadow
Remains the little boy.

– niz

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