Soccer

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I was a master of my hometown, of its shortcuts, playgrounds, and potholes. I knew all of the secrets of Cary, North Carolina -- admittedly not difficult in our traditional, white, conservative community. The houses were, by law, as beige as their inhabitants.

One early morning, I arrived at the park for a skateboarding tryst, expecting solitude on a Sunday. Yet as the sun began to rise, cars started pulling into the parking lot, filling the air with their clunks and door slams. What could possibly be going on at 7:00 on a church morning? I left the pavement to investigate.

As I neared the soccer field, the composition of the noise began to change to the rolled “r”s and fluid syllables of the Spanish language. Suddenly, black and white whirled by my feet, and I raced to kick it back to the field. As I pivoted to send the ball flying back, I looked up to meet open-mouthed gapes. For a moment, we watched each other.

Finally, a young man motioned for me to join them. I considered the offer. Something about foot-eye coordination simply evades me, and the players here could move. I knew I would embarrass myself, but I was going to try.

“You play with us,” the man told me in a thick accent. A motion towards the chest indicated the shirts...

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