The Basketball Hoop

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My son loves basketball.

He will wake up in the morning, lay in his crib and say “basketball” over and over, sometimes clapping and ending the phase with “yaaaaaaaay.”

It Is Adorable.

But also, maybe we should have been showing him movies about Physics or playing tapes of a foreign language instead of inundating his developing brain with the NBA. Dude, we even watched summer league games.

Anyway, we have a small, plastic, netless hoop that he’s too tall for.  So I randomly went on Craigslist and found someone selling a taller one with a net a few towns over.

We spoke a bit over text and arranged an evening for me to pick it up. I went by myself. It was 8 or 8:30 on a weeknight. I followed the GPS and it lead me on to a private street with a row of townhomes. It was a cul-da-sac. It was dark.

As I walked up to the door I realized I had no idea who the person on the other side was. Man. Woman. Young. Old.

Nothing.

I rang the bell.

An Asian woman about my age answered the door with her two school aged children peering behind her curiously.

I felt a wave of relief. And I know she did too.

She opened her garage and showed me the hoop and then offered to help me get it into my compact hatchback, leaving her kids on the driveway as she wheeled it down the street where I parked.

I told her I could get it myself, but she insisted.

***

In the northwest suburbs of Illinois, especially the town I went to high school, there are very few Asians. I always notice when I’m the only minority at a diner or bar. Like, seriously, a packed restaurant and I’ll be THE only non-white person until a busboy comes by.

McHenry County voted for Trump. Overwhelmingly, considering how Blue Illinois went.

I guess it’s just hard for me to believe that places like this exist and I live in them.

That I choose to live in them.

Well, actually, I’m moving back into the city in two short weeks. Into a very white neighborhood.

But still.

At least when I’m on the train…er, nevermind, I’ll be on the Brown Line.

At least when I’m heading into my office in Willis Tower, the majority of people. Wait, no.

At least when I grocery shop at Trader Joe’s on Lincoln Ave…Nope.

OK, when I make a concerted effort to leave the confines of my street and head into other neighborhoods to eat and drink, there will be other people of color. Maybe there will be more POC than white people.

And it will feel like a famliar face behind an unfamiliar door.

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