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I stare at them playing. Everyone in this family is good at sports. My sister, my brothers, my cousins, my dad. But that family skill doesn’t come to me. I know this feeling because I have felt it before. Loneliness. Isolation. I’m not sure if I’m isolating myself, or if they are isolating me. Either way, I stand outside and watch them play. In the crowd, but not part of it.
And this is where my skill comes in handy. I can smile and clap whenever the ball goes through the hoop. I can cheer and watch intensely when a player is running to the basket.
I can say, “Go! You can do it!”
But I can’t mean it.
Today is a Thursday, and my family plays basketball in our driveway while the sun slowly sets. But today, it could be any day. It seems loneliness is a constant feeling.
I squint my eyes so tears don’t fall. I smile so no one can tell what goes on inside this shell. I bite my lip hard because I want to stop faking happiness, but I don’t want the shallow pity of my family.
This isn’t working. I won’t stand here, cheering. I can’t. It hurts too much to cheer for people who have what I want so badly in the world. They fit in. And me…I do not.
My house is a few footsteps and an open door away. If I walk away, if I close that door…
If these eyes, these ears, this heart, can close themselves then it will not, cannot hurt anymore.
My feet take me to the door of my house. They step inside and walk up to my room. They stride to the window, a front row seat, safe and secure. I watch the game and from this upstairs view it does not seem like a happy place to be. My sister shrieks in anger as my cousin ‘accidentally’ hits her. The old orange ball pounds on the driveway and for a second I wonder if the driveway ever hurts from all this being stepped on, but the thought runs away because my dad makes a shot, throws it in the air, it flies, it flies, it hits the rim of the basket breaths are held, fingers crossed, and the look in my dad’s eyes are priceless when he sees he did not make the shot. Pure disappointment. Is this really the game I want to play in?
There are no smiles, no handshakes in the game that they play. They play to win, not to learn, or experience. I turn away from the window because I am thinking and realizing.
Right here, in this small and temporary stage of my life, I do not belong. I am a sideliner, with dreams of glory that are thinner than mist and stone cold. I am not a winner, but I have lost nothing. There is no shame felt for being who I am. No sadness. Not anymore. I don’t belong here.
My head turns back to the window I am not looking at the basketball game. I’m looking farther out, to the horizon. Sitting in my small place at this window, I stare out, beyond the trees, beyond the rooftops, to the setting sun. A whole new horizon, a whole new world, where somewhere, I will belong.