Jon asked me about my favourite childhood summer memories a few posts back. I don’t really have one defining memory that I can think of right now, mostly the summer was just an all around great time. I was good at school, but that doesn’t mean I liked being there.
Instead, I’ll write about my summers in junior high and high school. Basically, I spent them playing basketball constantly. We moved communities when I was in grade eight, but I stayed in the school I had been in since kindergarten. So for the summer between grade eight and nine, I had to either ride my bike the significant distance from my new community to my old one to play basketball with my friends, or get a ride from my dad. But I still did, because playing basketball was the best thing in the world.
The following summer was a very lonely one. Near the end of the school year I had a falling out with my group of friends over something really stupid, but ultimately it was probably a reaction to the fact that I was simply a lot different than them. We were evolving into different kinds of people, which probably made me someone they didn’t want to hang out with anymore. It made for a fairly uncomfortable final few months of school, but I was okay with it. I had mostly outgrown the whole place and was looking forward to starting over in a new high school were very few people from my junior high attended, and none of that group of former friends.
But this meant no more basketball games for me. Instead, I’d go out every night by myself and shoot hoops at a local elementary school hoop close to my house. Maybe once or twice someone showed up to join me, but for the most part, it was just me shooting around by myself. It sounds sad and maybe a little pathetic, but in truth, it was pretty great. I’ve always been pretty good at avoiding peer pressure in my life, but when you’re in grade nine, that’s not as easy as it sounds. I probably did a better job than most kids my age, but I was still letting myself be influenced by that group of friends in negative ways, and trying to be something I wasn’t. Spending two months with just a ball and a hoop let me re-centre myself and realise that I was far better than anything I might’ve been trying to be for them.
The next few summers were spent playing pretty intense games at the local junior high hoop, just a few minutes up the road. Heh, I could’ve been playing real games all along. But it was best that I spent the time alone. I’d arrive at the Annie Gale courts sometime around 5, then play til the sun went down (sometimes later, trying to keep going with the lights of the school going). One day we even painting the court, filling in the key and marking out three-point lines and the mid-court circle. There you go, a specific memory from my almost childhood after all.