Austin, Eastwoods Park — It’s early, Saturday. The dark is lifted and the night still lingers, stillness still reins. Squirrels romp undefended on the ground, able to focus on harvest. A few solo humans are perched around the park, one at a picnic bench, one on the grass next to a tennis court. A large man hoists his body side to side underneath a basketball rim. I sit on a limestone block, eyes still heavy, no rhythm yet.
I start singing here. It’s a slow dream song, with one vertical run that comes back like a snoozed alarm. I sing as the park brightens with footsteps, dog and human. Men trickle to the basketball court, asserted cool with a hint of boyish eagerness and hand slaps.
Slowly my song gains energy and hints of rhythm. I pause when an older Asian man draws close. We smile, nod. He wears a white buttoned shirt and dress pants, carries a basketball in a plastic bag. He stares at the developing activity on the court from afar. I’ve seen him before here, alone, energetically shooting swoosh after swoosh.
I ask, “Are you going to join them?” He’s silent with a flash of embarrassment.
“They are so tall,” he says with barely English. I feel his shyness in me.
“But you are fast,” I say.
He gives me a humble hand wave and then walks, a wide indirect path to the court. He pulls out his ball and shoots for a while. The gathered men, save one, slowly move like an ant colony to the opposite basket.
Still singing, I watch how social comfort excludes. He shoots. Swoosh. Swoosh. Swoosh. After a few minutes, he relents, packing his ball and walking hesitantly away. I turn toward him as he is reaching the street. He waves to me. I wave back and think that I will shoot baskets with him next time.
This is all sweet morning music.