Snapshots of Lawrence

10 Jan

I washed my hands

looked into the mirror

and smiled.

Kansas wasn’t an easy move to make.

You have to want to find Lawrence.

You don’t wind up there by accident.

You can’t fly there

and no bus or train will take you without

stopping in Kansas City, Missouri first.

I’d left the comfortable trappings

of a cushy middle management gig

in Texas for a period of uncertainty

in some random college town that most of my friends

didn’t know existed.

It made sense to no one but me.

I needed to absorb the history of the town

where modern basketball was birthed

long after the first shots of the Civil War rang out.

A town where Nick Collison became a local legend

and Hall of famers like Wilt the Stilt,

Paul Pierce and JoJo White made their bones.

Greg Ostertag starred at the neighboring high school

in Dallas.

Met Gale Sayers once in an elevator

who I had no idea–before that day–that he was a KU alum.

He looked nothing like Billy Dee Williams.

I once asked a coworker who’d

played center at Oklahoma State,

what it was like to play in Allen Fieldhouse as a visitor,

and he said it was “kinda spooky.”

One of the best years of my life was spent living in Lawrence, Kansas

But I didn’t know that yet.

I would’ve never guess that I would roam the same halls

where Danny Manning won a high school state championship.

Didn’t know how often I would run into guys like

Wayne Simien, Scott Pollard and Ben McLemore

randomly at places like the grocery store or the taco shop.

Or that I would enjoy some of my best moments

microdosing and playing basketball with friends

or one of the most memorable birthdays ever

at an in conference game with two good buddies.

All those summer visits to Lawrence and KC led to this:

playing pickup soccer under soft Kansas sunsets,

learning on the fly in a semi competitive league.

pining to meet someone

who’d lived in Lawrence during the golden age of 1996 to 2003.

Before the development of the west side

and destruction of the marshes.

None of it made sense.

How do you explain the chills of

being in attendance at game in Allen Fieldhouse

walking around with all the ghosts in town?

It was something one had to experience for themselves.

The intensity and fun of various pickup games

on the town’s many courts–

and the beauty of seeing basketball hoops in every other driveway.

Those pleasures would not be mine

had I not taken that chance.

Moved to the middle of nowhere

to a state where I knew no one

and didn’t have a notion of how I would make a living,

or frankly, where I would live.

But it would all work out

in ways I could never predict.

Of course, I didn’t know that at the time

staring in the mirror

and drying my my hands,

before joining the throng

of people playing board games

in the living room.

It definitely felt like home.

I just wasn’t sure for how long.

~Bob E. Freeman

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