Friday, December 02, 2005

Short Story

This is a short story I wrote in 1985 for a creative writing class at UMASS/Amherst. As it was based on actual experiences and was not trying to be overtly "creative", my teacher was pretty clear that it was the only thing I wrote that fall that was not "shit".
Bryan was my best friend at the time, and is now my step-brother. The two of us started the first Ithaca High School Ultimate team.

Bryan accelerated and sent the car careening around the corners of Cascadilla Park road as we made our way up to Cornell University. In the passenger seat, I could look down into the slate gorge and see the water rushing over waterfalls on the way to Cayuga Lake. I looked back and could see the sun just beginning to lower over West Hill. The windows were wide open, like the accelerator, and the rushing late June air was like a reward for surviving the harsh, dark winters. The end of high school was just a few days away, but Bryan and I had already made the emotional shift away. We did not attend any Senior Week activities, and spent as much time as we could pursuing new friends and passions. As we came to the top of the hill, Bryan accelerated, and our energy increased as we now were closer to the field. We passed Risley Hall, and I reflected for a moment on the experiences of seeing bands there, like the Zobo Funn Band, during hedonistic parties. Bryan's aggressive left turn right before the Beebee Lake bridge snapped me back to attention. We drove up the little hill and could see the motley gaggle of folks gathering at the field.

While Bryan and I were just finishing up school, most of these folks had been out of school for a month. They had decided to enjoy the most beautiful time of the year in Ithaca working and playing lots of Ultimate. Bryan parked the car, and we grabbed our cleats from the back seat. The group energy was buzzing as folks got ready to play. People were sitting around, joking and laughing. Most everyone had dogs, so they were running around creating chaos. We crossed the parking lot and walked over to say hi to Chris Van Buran. CVB was wearing his usual bandanna over his long black hair, and he greeted us with his welcoming manner. We spoke about the summer and the Talking Heads. A few months earlier, I had made the decision to attend UMASS over McGill based on him telling me how good ZooDisc was. CVB broke off our conversation to go warm-up. I watched him closely as he had all the throws I didn't have. He was the first person I saw throw a hammer during a game.

As we made our way over to the group, a fight broke out between two of the dogs. Both dogs were large labs, and folks went diving for cover as the dogs rolled crazily over the bags and chairs. Quick as a cat, Mike Yonda jumped in between the dogs, and emerged holding each dog off the ground by the scruff of the neck. Yonda was in contrast to the laid back, hippy norm. He was muscular, intense, and very athletic. I would only see Yonda a few more times. The last time was a few months later at NE Regionals. ZooDisc played Zekreation in quarters on Sunday morning. Late in the game, Yonda and I went up for a disc and our collision knocked him out of the game.

Bryan and I got our cleats on and went to warm-up. While we were still in high school and still inexperienced as Ultimate players, the college folks always welcomed us at their pick-up games. They helped us with our throws and kept us involved when we played. The start of the game was a dance of unspoken words. Folks just knew it was time to play. The folks wearing red and black for dark would go one way, and the whites would go the other. It did not seem lost to us that the opportunity to play this game on this warm summer evening was a gift. The seven of us on the line all acknowledged each other with energy and readiness. One of us put our arm up, and with a yell of "Ultimate", we would pull and run as fast as we could. I could see the disc floating past the red sun setting as the game began.

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