Colegio Cerritos has a sand, volleyball court outside the gym. I haven’t seen many people play on it. It’s not in the best condition. There are all sorts of stones, shards of ceramics, and concrete rocks in the sand, and the poles are leaning inward with tattered banners of volleyball net that were once cut off or had snapped from the tension.
A few weeks ago I asked the Director if I could host an after school volleyball activity. I had the high school students in mind because they stay at school anyways. The Director sent out notices to the student’s parents a few days before. In the meanwhile, Shin and I went on a search for a volleyball net. We found a regulation size at Mercado 4 / Korean District. You can find just about everything there.
So yesterday was the day and I set up the net wondering if anyone would show. Shin came out as my moral support. It wasn’t long before the following people came: high school boy #1, but none of his friends wanted to play so he left, middle school boy #2 who stayed and played until the end, a flock of 6th grade girls with no idea how to play.
Then the PE teacher came. He’s very competitive or just wanted a really good game. The first thing he did was kick the girls off the court and set up a 2 on 2 match. Shin and I were on one side and he and middle school boy #2 on the other. We got rocked. But winning or losing, the weather was perfect for outdoor volleyball. It was windy but warm and not too bright for the eyes. I could have tricked myself into imagining that the ocean was just a few hundred yards away. Once the PE teacher sized everyone up he started insisting that loser buys Coca-Cola. We had enough for a 3 on 3 match and our side lost.
I walked across the street and bought a 2 liter for our losing team. It was great being in Paraguay at that moment because the vender only had 4 dusty cups he could give me. That stuff hardly matters. You just wipe the dust off and share cups (I only shared with Shin) and it’s “tranquilo,” or “whatevers”. I never knew how delicious Coca-cola is when you’re thirsty. Those few moments in the breeze waiting for the heart to slow down, drinking a cold soda and basking in the camaraderie was great. I asked the students if they would come next week for volleyball and they said yes. So we’ll see if there’s going to be another volleyball afternoon.
As everyone prepared to leave the Director showed up and chastised one of the players. It turned out he was supposed to be picking up trash the whole time! Then one of the other two guys was asking where I bought the volleyball and how much it cost. Next he asked if he could borrow it to play basketball. I asked for how long? And he said about an hour. I asked if he could return it to the house and he said yes. I showed him which one was our house and he kept looking back at his friend and chuckling.
I was about to lend the ball to him when it struck me to put an insurance clause on it. I was only thinking to cover myself in the case that it exploded, or in case one of them kicked it on the roof. I told him to agree that if he didn’t return it to me it would be his responsibility to pay me for what it costs. And it had to be returned in original condition. Then his friend said, “Just him. Not me” and I said, “Okay. Only he’s responsible.” Then the guy muttered something and left and his friend told Shin, “Do you know what he was trying to do? He was going to take it.” Honestly, I felt bad for even putting that clause on the ball. But after I found out his intentions, I felt good for acting on my intuition. That’s how you become a strong (Black) woman.