We were the first class of six graders to move to Central Junior High School. The only ones really happy about this were the incoming seventh graders – no longer would they be at the bottom of the hierarchy. Leaving Washington Elementary, we left behind our giant playground. Filled with monkey bars, swing sets, tethered balls, a baseball field, a jungle gym, teeter totters — all which we ruled as 5th graders. Central Junior High had none of it. No playground whatsoever.
There was a small nook between building additions. It was covered with tar. It didn’t take us long to claim it. (Not to mention that no one else wanted it.) We took chalk from the art room and outlined the four squares. Kept a red rubber ball after gym class. We were all set. Four-square. We didn’t just play. We became champions. We had moves. Giant arm swings that would indicate a hard ball on the way, only to tap it slightly with fingertips, leaving the person in the next square open-jawed and back to the end of the line. We made alliances. We laughed. We cheered. We ruled that tiny piece of real estate that few even knew existed.
We heard the rumors. Sure. Parents. Teachers. People of the town. “This part of the school wasn’t safe.” “It shouldn’t be open.” “What will they do?” We couldn’t really be bothered with it all. We simply found a way. We found our own way. The voices in our own heads were so much stronger. Now that I think about it, maybe they weren’t any louder than the voices in our heads today, but maybe we just listened more. I want that. I want to listen to that voice that tells me to color outside of the lines. To laugh until I can’t stand. To embrace my friends openly. To take what I’m given and celebrate! To love and play over the din of doom. To feel the bounce of my red rubber heart! I can hear that joy! You can hear it! I know we can do this! Whatever this day may bring, let’s find a way – our own way – to have a little fun!