There are frogs croaking with an Amazonian thickness in the section of the Green River that runs alongside The Boy’s soccer practice. It’s a huge facility down in Tukwila where the Sounders sometimes practice. Tonight it is neither the frogs nor the Sounders that have my attention. Rather it is is the fact that for the first time since returning to practice (that must have been July, maybe June), they are going to be able to compete. Practice has returned to a full-contact situation, so they won’t be relegated to their little orange cone cages in the corners of the field. They’ll be all over the place, knocking into each other, tugging on shirts, lowering shoulders, and maybe even throwing the occasional elbow. Until now, soccer practice has been a sad little exercise in wishing it didn’t suck. A test of patience and the ability of a nine year-old boy to think of the long term in order to tolerate a lousy short term.
It didn’t work. He hated it. He complained every day that he had practice. Begged us to let him quit so much that we almost gave in. But in the absence of an alternative, we weren’t going to tale away his only real physical outlet. His pent up energy would be the end of us all. But yesterday he heard that practices would be full-on again, with no social distancing, and his attitude changed. A little. It wasn’t very perceptible, because he’s guarded and would be giving away far too much of himself if he were to come out and say that he was happy to go play soccer. He continued to insist that soccer is lame, but gave himself away a little by saying that he was just looking forward to trying out his new soccer shoes (my God, their feet grow fast). He’s only nine, but he already acts as stupid as the rest of us. My work is done.
Fast forward! It’s tomorrow now. Today, Thursday. The phone just buzzed and showed me that The Girl has an actual soccer game on the schedule now. October 17th. I am an eternal optimist, but also a realist, and I think that 10 days is more than enough time for everything to be rolled back, and I won’t be at all surprised if the game gets canceled before they get to play. Wouldn’t make much sense for them to cancel it afterwards.
I said it here before, I doubt this will be the last time. I know that people “aren’t ready” for close contact. That for a lot of people this is all happening too fast. But I remember that none of those people had any trouble trusting the government (and the science and data it cited) when the government was shutting us down. It’s the same government, the same science, and the same data that are opening us back up, so it doesn’t make any sense to choose (and it is a choice) not to trust them now. And this isn’t exactly fast. We’re still in a world of social distancing markers on the floors, one-way grocery store aisles, special shopping hours for vulnerable populations, mostly – and very often fully – remote schooling in most areas, mask requirements just about everywhere indoors, pro sports with no fans, closed parking lots at parks, and sad, sheepish anticipation for every little peep that comes out of the governor’s office. We’re not walking the plank here. We’re dipping a toe or two.
And if I’m being honest, I do fully expect to see it rolled back. There will be an increase in positive cases soon, unless the governor thinks he can be re-elected without it. So we’ll cancel our soccer games, tape off the playgrounds, close the libraries, and increase capacity at bars, with expanded hours. For you know, coping. I might finally get actually annoyed when there’s a vaccine, fully vetted and approved by SCIENCE and issued by TEH GUVERMINT, and the people who have based every step of their COVID lives on government-relayed declarations from scientists are suddenly all “you’re just gonna believe it’s safe because they said so?”
People are friggin’ weird.
One more development to report now that it’s the future. It happened last night as I was saying goodnight to The Boy. We had just finished our highly classified bedtime ritual when he looked at me and said, “I can’t wait for practice on Saturday. I really like soccer now.” He’s a better man than I. It would have taken me months to change my tune.
-Get back in the game, Comrade Citizen!-