A tang filled the air tickling the girl’s nose. Watery sun filtered through high clouds. The girl walked on, the scent of burning leaves pleasant on the air. Garbed in an old sage green wool sweater of her father’s, a perfect accompaniment to Levi’s jeans, the girl felt comfortable as she trekked the two miles to the football game. For some reason, the varsity games were moved to a newer field at the high school that year. The previous location, the old field at the middle school, was only blocks from the girl’s house and much more convenient.
Along the way, she spent a short time wondering why she seemed always to walk alone. Many of her friends got rides to the game, yet never asked her to ride along. Oh well, it gave the girl time to indulge her imagination. Trekking past the small pond along the main road, the alone girl thought it a nice setting to live. She would enjoy waking up to views of the pond outside the window. But in her mind the pond was not located adjacent to a busy road. It was more secluded in a woodsy area. A small barn stood nearby, just large enough for her two horses to live. Dogs barked a merry greeting to any and all who dropped by. The girl would like that very much.
The honk of a horn broke her daydream. The autumnal aroma of burning leaves had long ago changed to car exhaust. In the distance, across the intersection, was her target. It was rather a large school in the sense that it sprawled in a spider shape. To add distance to her sojourn, the new football field was tucked in at the rear of the school. Cutting across a myriad of athletic fields shortened the journey and allowed the girl to escape back into her imagined setting of living by the pond. These fields would provide hay for her horses. Two cuttings a year would provide most of what she would need to winter her animals. Who was she kidding? She was just a kid who spent too much time alone dreaming about the unattainable. A girl in the 1970’s from a “broken” home wasn’t expected to amount to much. To heck with that, she’d show them.
Across the fields she walked and grinned when she thought about what she’d learned on these fields. The tomboy loved the thrill of competition. On these fields she was taught many games: speedball, field hockey, soccer. How she loved running, kicking, competing. Nearby were the tennis courts. That’s a story for another day. As she rounded the edge of the building, she spied the growing crowd. The teams had just entered the field and were involved in pre-game warm ups. As she entered the gate, her name was called and she spotted a gaggle of classmates. It was game time. It was a wonderful Saturday afternoon tradition. It was time for the alone girl to join in with the crowd.