Yesterday I wrote about what it’s like when two apparently divergent worlds collide. My relationship with an older woman ultimately dissolved when our interests simply did not meld.
Yet I’ve also been caught between two worlds as well. As a fifteen-year-old kid I was the sophomore class president and top cross country runner at a tiny high school in the cornfields of Illinois. My father made the decision (or the decision was made for him) to move our family east ten miles to a larger town.
The reasons behind that move are not so important to this recollection. What mattered more was that we moved during late February or the month of March, right in the middle of the school year. From that point until the end of the year, I was hauled back and forth between school and basketball and track practices by a bevy of coaches who all happened to live near my new house in St. Charles.
Home and Away
That period was a weird existence. Rather than going home each night to our big house in Elburn a few miles east of old high school, I rode home thirteen miles east to a small split-level house in a modest St. Charles neighborhood. No more hanging with my friends at night after school. I’d also arrive before they got there in the morning and leave well after their parents had picked them up from school.
I lived in those netherlands for nearly four months.
I well recall trying to keep some sense of normalcy going during that netherland period. We’d arrive at that cornfield high school around 6:30 a.m., and I didn’t have the will to study, so I’d go to the locker room, change into track stuff and go practice the long jump or high jump. I was good enough to place in those two events at that level, going 5’10” at one point and 19’6″ in the long jump, but that was a split in purposes too. By trade I was a distance runner, not a jumper. I ran a 4:42 mile that spring.
But somehow rather than run more laps around the track it felt good to run down the runway and jump into that sand pit. I think it was a release of stress at being caught in a weird period of life. Without a measuring tool to check the length of my jumps, it was only possible to estimate how far I’d gone.
I’d back up on the runway, rock on my heel, take off running down the asphalt strip and jump as long and as hard as I could. My feet would strike the sand in a rush of noise. I’d brush off my hands and stand their looking at the distance between the board and the pit. Then I’d rake it back smooth and try all over again.
What an allegory for life it was.