Street kickball

Most of the kids on my block are from working class or lower income families. Whereas where I grew up in the suburbs, most kids had summer camps or day programs their parents shelled out coin to send them to, for many families that’s not really an option. The weather in Albany – and for the Northeast in a whole – has not been very summerlike. Most days it seems are overcast and damp. Some days are chilly even.  I have to commend the kids on this street for maximizing the amount of time they spend outdoors each and every day. It’s unlikely many of them are going to an a day program let alone an Adirondack sleepover camp. Still, they seem to really enjoy being out in the street, running along the sidewalks on both sides and trekking over the red brick.

For the most part the kids are loud but pretty deferential to adults. A neighbor I know told me he’s had to jokingly threaten a few of them with his garden clippers for going through his shrubs. Still, as frustrated as he is with the damage they have done to his his backyard and the bark they have stripped on the trees he paid the city to plant, he stops to say hello to the them, smiles to them and is nice.

I find the kids to be admirable, particularly the two sisters who live next door. The police have been called over on a few occasions to break up domestic fracases between mom and dad, but the girls seem to be confident and can certainly hold their own in the rough and tumble boy dominated horseplay that goes on.

The softball diamonds are too far for the kids of the block – who range from 1 – 9 years – to walk to, so they’ve improvised their own game of straight line kickball. They use a slightly deflated soccer ball the family from Colombia has and they spread themselves narrowly across the street. The kicks are often errant and sometimes hit cars, but the ball is not heavy enough to dent or crack anything on the vehicles on the block, so it’s all good. I worry though about one of them getting clipped by a car sometimes. They’re young and not always watchful and drivers can be easily distracted.

Tonight they were at it until 8:30 p.m., six or seven of them, white, black, hispanic, playing their peculiar version of kickball. The days are shorter than they were last month and so with each day their quitting time gets earlier. Still, they keep themselves pretty busy with it and I respect that. It’s easy to forget what it’s like to be a child with so few responsibilities. There are days I’d rather be playing a game; kickball, softball, street hockey or even bowling than being at work.

Yesterday I applied for a credit card through my credit union and was turned down. An old utility bill needed to be paid. It wasn’t much – $230 – but I’d let it go, pushing it to the back of my mind for over three years. I used to be in terrible debt because of my irresponsibility, but in the last two years as my income increased and became steady, I have been diligent about not letting debts go to long. Yesterday, I received a letter from a collections agency that I was advised to send on to the credit bureaus indicating I’d completed payments on an outstanding credit card – a card I first made a purcahse with in the summer of 2001 at an Gelatoria in Little Italy. After years of neglecting to reconcile the debts, I finally paid it off. I’m now proud to say I have nothing valid in collections.

The adult world can be a pain. I don’t feel like I’ve had much in the way of time off this year and my big vacation I’m planning for has become something of a stressful thing to plan for. I’m travelling for my 30th to California, spending time in San Diego, Los Angeles and then Santa Barbara before meeting up with my twin for our birthday and hiking around Big Sur. Hotels have already cost me about $700 and the car rental – for which I need a credit card  – will be close to $700 when all is said and done. It’s stressful to think of all that money or whether or not I’ll have money for my trip. When you’re an adult, it seems you have to plan your fun and pay for it. Kids on the other hand are free to entertain themselves with no money. Sometimes they just kick and old sagging rubber ball around and enjoy every moment of it. I really admire that.

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