While none of us have claimed to be practicing athletes in years (…or ever), we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to play when Brenda, one of the Starfish girls, asked us to join a local basketball game. We were a little surprised to learn we’d be playing in the middle of town, and even more surprised when we saw that we would weaving between the players of three other games in order to get to our baskets. But, determined to prove ourselves to be as cool as the girls thought we were, we didn’t back out — even when they wanted to play full court instead of half.
By the time the opposing team scored eight baskets, we were trailing behind our much younger teammates, wheezing “Media cancha, por favor!” (Half court, please!). When we finally persuaded them to feel some sympathy for las gringas and switch to half court, though, we came back with a vengeance, having a significant height advantage over our 14-year-old opponents, and the She’s the First/Starfish team won both of our next two games.
The normalcy of the game reminded us that kids are still kids, no matter where they’re living. We had just returned from Brenda’s house, where we saw all too clearly the differences between her childhood and our own. She has a patch of corn growing where our swingset would be and a sink for chores under the tree where we would’ve built a treehouse, but when we were on the court, all she wanted was the ball.