Over the past few months, I have been on a mission to keep myself busy between travels. I am not one who easily gets over what I see and where I’ve been, or forgets the people I’ve met along my travels. It takes weeks and months for me to fully recover from a trip. When I return home, the post-travel blues hit hard, and hold on to me for a long time.
To recover, I constantly try to surround myself with my travels. After visiting Fiji, I decorated my classroom’s bulletin board with pictures from the village we visited, and made connections to the book we were reading, Three Cups of Tea. Then after last year’s trip to Vietnam and Thailand, I put pictures from the trip around my classroom, and tried teach my students lessons that I had learned from my journeys. Even now, almost every day, I try to wear something I acquired while traveling – a necklace, a scarf, a shirt, anything to remind me of my travels. But, in many ways these actions make me miss being on the road even more.
Which is why, after six long months without travel, I have had to fill that gap left in my life with other activities. I have tried to find other ways to break out of my comfort zone – signing up for scuba lessons, cooking, and ice skating. I have made an effort to try more ethnic cuisines in my own neighborhood – Malaysian, Nepalese, and Ethiopian. And, most recently, I have begun to rediscover past loves – one of those being basketball.
In middle school, basketball was my favorite sport. I loved each and every moment out there on the court; I even played two seasons: winter and summer. Now, this isn’t to say that I was very good, I never really believed that practice made perfect, but I gave it each and every effort I could. Even though I didn’t love practicing, I loved playing.
But, as high school approached, I had to choose between two loves: cheerleading and basketball, and for some reason, I chose cheerleading. I knew I made a mistake when I would watch my friends playing basketball, as I sat on the sidelines cheering them on. My cheerleading career was short-lived; one long season and I was out, my heart wasn’t fully in it. That was my choice, and so for years, I forgot about basketball.
Then, just the other night, at our school’s annual student-faculty game, I finally had the courage to step out on the court. I had nothing to lose, and even though I hadn’t picked up a ball in over thirteen years; if anything, it would at least be entertaining for the students.
At first, I struggled. Completely forgetting everything I knew about the game. But, after a few practice shots, that I missed, and lay-ups, I felt comfortable enough to play. And, after the perfect introduction, “Even though she’s a world traveler, she won’t travel on the court,” I was put in to start the game. It was a challenge through and through, but after the ball broke through and rolled down the court, I ran after it. I attempted a shot, but it was blocked by a student. I rebounded twice before finally making it in. It was my only shot, but it immediately brought back my confidence and love of the game. I felt as if I had won the game.
For the next hour, I spent time on and off the court, but the entire time memories of my time playing basketball kept rushing back. I realized that for years, I had pushed this old love behind. Life got in the way of an activity that I was so passionate about. Which is why, my new goal is to continue to uncover old loves that I’ve pushed aside over the years. And, now that spring has finally arrived, I am going to find a way to make it on the court more often.