The Basketball Court

It seems like any time I need to walk somewhere, I pass the same basketball court. I don’t even know what street it’s on: I just look to my right, and there it is again, always empty and pristine. It’s surrounded by a chain link fence and glows with dim, yellow light at night. You get the feeling that if you entered that place, you’d simply disappear.

The summer that I moved to this city, my boyfriend bought a basketball, and on especially sweltering days we’d walk to this basketball court and shoot some hoops. No one else was ever there, which was nice — but entering that court in July was like placing yourself under a magnifying glass. I could feel the sun burning my scalp, turning the part in my hair a bright, itchy red. My boyfriend tried to teach me how to dribble and pass and block or whatever it is you need to do when playing basketball, but eventually I’d just crawl to the curb in the shade and sit. I would watch him. I would wait for the nausea to pass, for the black splotches to recede from my vision, for the world to stop swirling. I have never, ever liked basketball.

I wanted to be the kind of girl who liked playing basketball. I wanted to be strong and lithe, abrupt and shimmering golden in the sunshine: I wanted to prove myself and the world wrong, suddenly emerging as everything I am not. But mostly what I remember, when I pass that basketball court, is the day I sat there on the curb, sadly watching him, and I thought “I do not love you, and you do not love me.”

That’s okay, I convinced myself. Lots of people do this. And we dated for nearly another year, like lots of people do.

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