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It’s hard to find a place where you’re accepted and belong to. A place where you can feel absolutely free. A place where you can let go of everything, all the outside distractions, and where nothing can touch you. A place that you can own deep in your heart and that owns a piece of your heart forever. A place that brings you closer to any of your friends than you could have ever thought imaginable and that brings you closer to yourself.
I drive by the field almost everyday. Every time I just have to look, just to see, and, subconsciously, I let off the gas and slow down a little to take my time. I can smell the grass, see my friends playing ball around me, hear myself screaming at the top of my lungs in the football game. I see the football team under the lights on Friday nights, the baseball team on the field in the evenings. I can feel myself running across center field after a deep fly ball and then dive all out with total aggression and disregard to snag it at the tip of my glove and then slam hard back to the grass with the most painful satisfaction imaginable.
The field turns any sense of pain into a feeling of accomplishment. Time laps, drills, conditioning, hard hits, long runs, good catches, good throws, good blocks, hitting the hole, great execution. Every play, every down on that field, win or lose, was an accomplishment.
The build up before the games on Friday nights can’t be described. The seniors know all too well the feeling of anticipation we had to go through standing on the goal line after practice on the Thursday before each game, wishing for the game to get started yet living up each of the last remaining moments before we’d never step back onto the field the same way again. Just before the games we’d walk to the field and go through our pre-game. The fans were in the bleachers, the lights were on, the game was almost here. The anxiety was enough to bring tears at times. The seniors felt the tears every pre-game, tears that we were going through on of the last few pre-games we had left under the lights of our home field. We knew exactly what we were in for. That didn’t stop us from giving everything we had and then everything we’d borrowed from watching the teammate next to us give just a little more. We drove ourselves beyond any limits, physically and mentally, that had existed. We took everything we had to the field and left it all and then some when we were done. Looking back, we all wish we would haven given more.
It was almost impossible to walk off the field after each game. After the wins the sense of celebration had to be enjoyed on the field which we’d given so much to. After the losses we had to watch the emptiness of the field, see the pain as if it were there to touch. Though the last game of the year wasn’t on our field, I felt a physical, gut wrenching jerk when I stepped over that white line and off the field for the last time ever.
One night as I was driving by I stopped and went back to field and parked my car and I walked around the field in the dark. I laid down near the 50-yard line/center field, and looked back to all the games, all the practices spent on that field. I would have slept there if I could have, but the memories kept me wide-awake. I belong to that field and it will always belong to me.