FC: THE ODYSSEY'S OF ARICK WADE By Arick Wade
2: For the first seven years of my life, I had never traveled outside of the United States! Then, one day in May, my parents told my three siblings and me that we would be going to Australia starting June 27th! Coincidentally, that was also my birthday! Not only would it be a great family vacation I would always remember, but it would also be a great birthday! “Time to wake up, time to get out of the country!” my dad shouted upstairs to us at eight o’clock in the morning. I woke up feeling excited, yet nervous at the same time. Excited, because it was my birthday and I was about to travel and tour Australia! Nervous, because I had never flown on a plane and was scared about what could happen. I was seven years old at the time and when you’re seven, you are scared of everything! The flight took off, and I was shaking and trembling the whole time. “Here we go”, I thought to myself as the flight to Australia took eighteen hours. I dozed in and out for the next eighteen hours because it was such a long flight and I was so tired, remembering only snippets of the flight. I remembered the flight attendants handing me a cupcake for my birthday, my three siblings and I kicking the seats of the people in front of us, watching two movies, and when we arrived in Australia, my brother left his Gameboy color in the seat pocket in front of him, forgetting all about it! When we walked off the airplane and entered Melbourne, Australia, our whole family had a renewed sense of energy and excitement! We arrived at the hotel we would be staying at for a week in the center of Melbourne around four o’clock in the afternoon. We all agreed that we would take a two to three hour nap, then go out and eat dinner. I woke up first. I told my mom to wake up because I was really hungry. She said that everything is closed right now. I was confused! Why would everything be closed at seven pm? I checked the alarm clock and it was 5 in the MORNING! This was my first experience with jet lag. My dad had to attend a conference the first part of our trip as this was a business trip for him. So, my mom had to take care of four children ranging in age from five to twelve and keep us entertained for eight hours a day for seven days. The first day we walked around a park where they held a racing event, the Melbourne Grand Prix! It was over three miles long and it was a beautiful park because it was filled with trees, pond, and geese, a natural setting inside the city. The main highlight of the trip in Melbourne was when we went to Phillip Islands, where we would see a parade of penguins swimming in from their day of food hunting at sea! Sadly, there were not many penguins that showed up that night, but when we spotted them we went crazy because my family and I love penguins. After a week of touring Melbourne, we left our hotel early the next morning to get to our next destinations, Ayers Rock and Cairns.
3: When we arrived to Ayers Rock, it was more of a relief to get off that plane than seeing the beautiful rock. The airplane was very tiny, and with fifty people aboard with half of them being foreign, it smelled quite a bit. So, we were all relieved when we saw Ayres Rock. We took a tour of the aborigine land Ayres Rock was on with a tour guide who has been there for twenty years. While we were there, my mom told me that I shouldn’t run around too much because of the sharp rocks all around us. They were like glass. But, sure enough, when my mom let go of my hand, I started runningand BAM, I fell right on the sharp rocks and cut my knee open, there was blood all over my knee. Luckily, it wasn’t too bad after my mom washed it up. When we saw Ayers Rock it had a mixture of colors like orange, yellow, and pink. I did not want to see just a stupid rock when I was seven years old halfway across the world, but now I realized it was a very special rock. The next morning we left for Cairns where we would stay for three days. I think Cairns was the best part of the trip because it was a fun place to tour, it was always sunny and had just the right temperature. When we were there, we went to a place called “The Night Market.” It was an outlet mall that was only open at night and had all these stores and restaurants coming from all around the world. It was definitely a cultural experience. A game called rugby captivated my brother and me. We bought t-shirts of the Australian team, The Wallabies. We would play rugby in the hotel; needless to say, we received some calls for loudness from the front desk. Cairns Zoo was the highlight of my trip hands down! This was not like any other zoo; at this zoo you could hold a koala! Koalas were and still are my favorite animal. When I got to hold the koala, my arms literally felt dead. Koalas are very heavy, and when you’re seven, everything is big to you. The koalas would hold onto you for dear life, and I found that really cute. Sadly we had to leave Cairns the next morning and fly to the last destination of our trip, Sydney. We arrived in Sydney at five am. By now, we had all gotten to use to the fact that we would arrive at places at weird times of the day. We would only stay in Sydney for two days. The feel of Sydney felt a lot different from Cairns. Cairns felt tropical and touristy and Sydney was bland, cold and grayish, like a city. The one thing that was worth seeing, and my whole family agrees with this, was the Sydney Opera House. The opera house has a unique shape, almost like the sails of a boat. It is very hard to explain what it looks like, but if you have ever seen a picture of it, the shape and texture of it is unlike any other place I have ever seen. We bought tickets to see an opera. Luckily it was an opera for kids, that didn’t have singing the whole time; so thankfully, I survived those two and a half hours! The trip to Sydney went by fast, and soon enough we were packing our bags and headed to Melbourne where our flight would take us back to Houston. Our flight to Melbourne took longer than expected and we went rushing to catch our Houston flight but of course, as soon as we land on the runway, we saw our flight to Houston taking off. So we were stuck in the place where it all began for one more night! We all had the same thought after two and one half weeks, “alright we have had enough fun, now let’s go home!” So we had to stay in our hotel and watched movies. Our flight was for eight o’clock the next morning. We boarded that flight without any worry of it taking off without us, unlike the last one. Eighteen hours of sleep on the plane, and we were back in Houston. This trip was definitely an odyssey for me because it was a new adventure. I had never been out of the country or on an airplane, but I learned and grew from my experiences and became less afraid of new things. I still look at the pictures from that trip every once in awhile, just because of what great that trip was and how much I remember from it. It was a great way to begin the seventh year of my life, and I know I’ll never forget that birthday or that two week adventure in my life.
4: I went into my room, glancing around looking at the empty spaces where my bed was and where my tv once was. This was the last time I would see my room because I was moving away from the only place that I called home, Houston, Texas the next day. I was moving to a place that I did not know at all. A small town in Massachusetts called Bolton. I was scared and sadden by this. I did not want to leave the place where all my friends were, my school, and my favorite sports team to a place where all I could see is trees and everything is on a hill. I knew this was a journey I would always remember for better or worse. I woke up the morning of my move scared as heck. The 3 hours it took for my house to close on its sale were the longest 3 hours of my life. I had said goodbye to all my friends the previous days. Around noon time we left Houston for good. As we drove on I-45, I looked out my window at the stores and places I would never see again. One good thing about this move up North was we were turning this into a road trip where we would travel to many cities! We first were headed to Dallas where we would meet up with our cousins and spend the night. That day I was so out of it, instead of hanging out with my cousins, I was on my phone texting my friends from Houston. The next day we drove 18 hours arriving in Minnesota, where we would stay for 4 days to visit all our relatives and grandparents. This place was like a second home to me. In Minnesota we went to a lot of sport events, which I, being an avid sports fan, loved! We went to a Minnesota Twins game where I almost caught a foul ball, the highlight of the trip so far. We went to stay with our grandparents at their home, where all our cousins were, and we played an amazing game, if I say so myself, of football. The 4 days were like a blur to me, and I still saw myself clinging onto my friendships with my Houston friend more than ever and I don’t know why. I knew eventually I would move on from them, but I needed them. The days to Bolton were getting closer and closer.
5: The next destination on our trip was Chicago. That was a good place to get my mind off the move. We spent 2 days there where we saw a Cub’s game at Wrigley Field, which was one of the most amazing things I’ve seen. We were in the Bleachers which were great seats and it took my mind off the move for 3 hours at least. The rumbling of the motor of my dad’s car and the silence of the movement inside always had my mind drift to the move. I began to wonder what Bolton would be like. Would the people be nice to me? Would they want to be friends? What happens if they don’t like me? All those thoughts would drift in and out of my mind as we drove and drove. This time was a bonding experience for our family, mainly the siblings. Because in Houston we always had friends to be there for us, but for once we were all we had for 3 weeks before school started. We were our only friends in this move. I realized that I could look to my siblings as more than just my family, but I could look at them as friends. And I am thankful for the move to open our eyes to that. That the move is making us stronger and if we could get past this, then we could get past anything! Two days, I thought when I woke up in a hotel room in Buffalo. We had been in Buffalo to see Niagara Falls. It was a mystifying “8th Wonder of the World.” The sound of the water rippling through the rocks and the attention the Fall’s drew to me, drifted my mind away from the move for at least a day. “Wake up, time to go to Massachusetts,” my dad said early and enthusiastic in the morning. This was it, I thought to myself, the big day. It was an eight hour drive to Bolton from Buffalo, but every hour that went by, it felt like a day. Eight hours later, and we arrive in Bolton. I look around and all I see are trees everywhere. It is the exact opposite of Houston. It seemed like our family was in a different universe. We had never seen anything like this. We were used to seeing restaurants, strip malls, and trees that are in sidewalks, not soil. When we saw our house, we were shocked how high it was. We never saw anything on hills in Houston. Basically everything was below sea level. It seemed like a climb to just get to that hill, to our new home, to where I’ll spend the remaining days of my childhood. But when we reached that top of the hill with the help of the hard work of our family and us working together, it was the end of twelve years in Houston and the beginning of a new adventure in Bolton. The 3 years that I have spent here so far are unforgettable. I was worried my first day of school, but the people here are so kind and easy going, it made my transition here so much easier than I expected. The activities I did also helped ease the move on me as I met new friends that are still a big impact on my life. I can still remember that first day we got to Massachusetts like it was yesterday. I was scared because of it. But I know that this was all for the better of my life, and it is a journey that I would take again anyday!
6: When I was four years old, a birthday present of mine was a basketball. I had never played a sport before and when I saw the ball I had no idea what to do. Was I supposed to kick it? Throw it? Little did I know starting that day, that basketball would become my favorite sport. I love the sound the ball makes when it goes through the net. The sound of the sneakers squeaking on a hardwood floor during a game. I love the game. I started playing for the YMCA when I was five years old. At the time I did not know anything about basketball. I had no strength and scored two points the whole season. Most people at my age who never scored would quit, but I didn’t. I just kept shooting and shooting and enjoying everything about the game. Starting the next year when I was six, my dad became the coach, and would be up until I was in eighth grade. He was one of the reasons I loved the game. Instead of being one of those dads that would try to push their son into playing a sport, my dad would only ask one question after every game. “Did you have fun?” I never knew what that meant till later on, but he just wanted me to have fun, and have it be a hobby, not a chore. After that year, where I actually became strong for my size, I would score and run like crazy trying to get the ball. That’s when I figured hey I really love this game. For the next three years, I would love watching basketball on television. I grew up in Houston so the team there was the Houston Rockets. When I saw my favorite player, Tracy McGrady play for them, I was in awe and I would try to imitate every move of his. I made my mom buy me a indoor basketball hoop that you would put on your door, and I would shoot while watching the games, and imitate all the moves of NBA players. I started to play with a group of school friends for a league. We made it to the championship game, but we lost in a sudden death, free throw shooting competition as we went to overtime already( this was 4th grade ball may I remind you.) When we lost, I was crying when and I was in fourth grade. I didn’t like to lose. I was too competitive my mom would say. Sometimes my mom wouldn’t want to see me play because I got so into it and diving on the floor for loose balls. Luckily, I tuned it down a notch finally. In 5th grade, my school had a basketball team for us. It was great feeling part of a team especially at a young age like that. My coach, who was my gym teacher, taught me a lot that I knew about basketball. She taught me to play ball the right way, to pass and get teammates involved. We were a great team, and we always got along with each other. We would have sleepovers and bond and it was a great experience being so close of a unit. I would daydream some days that my friends and I on that team would bring our school a state championship in fifth grade, but at the time I did not know that it would be my last year in Houston.
7: When I moved to Bolton the summer of going into middle school, I played basketball a lot outside my house. I would just listen to the cars go by and just shoot, dribble and more shooting. I would hear the sound of the ball hitting the pavement and the sound of the basketball hitting the backboard into the net. When tryouts for my town recreational league, people saw that I was really good and I didn’t know I was good, but when people told me, it gave me confidence and I thought, “Hey I can do this and be good at it.” I tried out for my middle school, and that only brought my confidence up more, as I made that team. This was when I got really into basketball and started playing more and more. That only continued into the summer where I played for a summer league. Over that course of the year, I played for four leagues and had three months off the whole year. My mom thought I would quit after that because I never had any free time, but I loved the game so much and I never would have gotten tired of it. The next year, was the only time I ever felt like quitting. Sure I played rec ball with my friends and had fun, but the school team, I hated. I would barely play ever, and that just brought me down, of well I guess I am not as good as I think. I would sometimes hate going to practice, but I am glad I stuck through it for the next spring and the following eighth grade year. Our town had a Skills Challenge tournament and whoever won would have a chance to go to the Celtic’s practice arena and possibly go to Florida for a chance to win the Skills Challenge. I luckily won our regional Skills Challenge, and went to the Celtics Practice Arena, where I saw Kevin Garnett working out. I then somehow won my age Skills Challenge. I didn’t make it to Florida, but I did get a better reward. I got to go on the Celtic’s Court at halftime of one of there’s game. It was an amazing experience seeing all those people staring at you. I don’t know how NBA players do it. I would die of nervousness the moment I walk on the court. Over the summer, I would shoot everyday. I started to love it more and more everyday I shot. For our middle school team, I was ready to start for the first time in middle school! When I walked on the court for the first time that season, I had no idea that my team would finish the season 16-1. The best record a Sawyer team had ever had. And I was glad to be a part of it. I learned a lot from my coach, who showed a lot of faith in me on and off the court, he trusted that I would tell the players what to do on the court in a nice way and not yelling. He knew the players would listen to me when I had something to say. He taught me to be a leader and because of him I still think of myself as a leader to my team on the court. Basketball is such a great sport, and I hope that I can play at the college level one day, and if not, then just play for fun with my peers. I can’t live without this game. I play through the hurt and pain because I love playing. If people say I’m too small or skinny to play, I prove them wrong. Nothing can keep me from playing the game that for eleven years I have called my favorite sport. God, I love this game.
8: There’s always that one friend that you have. Where you can just look at him and crack up without saying a single word. The one you know that will always be there. That’s just a few descriptions of me and my friend Jansen Cosart, my best friend when I lived in Houston. It started out as sitting next to each other in Kindergarten and moved onto sleepovers and many more memories that I would always remember. My first day of kindergarten was nerve-wracking because it is a new school and I knew no one. When I walked in the room, I noticed this little kid crying with his mom about not wanting to go to school and he had a distinct bump on his face from a bumblebee bite. Little did I know that this kid would soon become my best friend. Over the next two months of school, we were all still shy around each other, so my mom and Jansen’s mom arranged a sleepover for us. I was nervous for my first sleepover, but luckily my brother and Jansen’s brother were friends as well so I would have my brother with me. The main thing I remembered about my first sleepover was staying up till one a.m. smuggling cookies out of the pantry with Jansen and eating them all! Over the next three years, me and him became extremely close and had a bond like no other. Came fourth grade and for the first time ever, Jansen and I would not be in the same class. We were really saddened by this because we were afraid that if we weren’t in the same class we would lose being in touch with each othereven though the rooms of our classroom were ten feet apart from each other. That’s how close we were. That year we went on our first trip together to Austin for a basketball tournament for our brothers. When you put two best friends together in a huge hotel, you know there will be trouble eventually. We pushed all the buttons on the elevators and we would scurry out of the elevator as soon as people came into them, we would order a bunch of room service, and we would get the front desk called on us being loud numerous times! We talked about how one day we would play basketball for our school one day and lead us to a championship. That was a dream that would never come true a year later.
9: Fourth grade went by fast, and fifth grade was a blur as well. Jansen and I, although I didn’t want to say it at the time because it hurt too much, but, him and I have not been close as we were the previous years. Sure we would still hang out and talk, but it just wasn’t the same. Sure there was tension between us because I had figured out that this would be my last year living in Houston and it would be hard on us to ignore the big elephant in the room, but we did because Jansen’s and I friendship wasn’t all serious and deep talks always, but more of just joking around and having fun together. The last day of elementary school and the last day I would be in the same school as Jansen was really sad. I don’t remember much from that day, I don’t know why. It could be because it was so sad that I just don’t want to remember it. Two months later when I was about to leave, we wanted to visit the Cosart’s one last time. When we went to their house, there was no one home I have not seen the Cosart’s since that last day of school in May of 2006. For three and a half years up until this October I haven’t talked to Jansen, when one day he called my cell phone out of the blue, and we talked for two hours. I had never been happier after I hung up the phone. This shows that a friendship, no matter how long you and that person haven’t talked, it shows that they care about you as much as you care about them. This was the story of a friendship that could never die. Even with the two friends living a thousand miles apart, that if you truly care about a friend, but haven’t talked to your friend in a long time, doesn’t make the feeling die. Friendships can come in different many ways, they can come in a way people least expect. Mine came when I chose to sat down to this kid who was crying my first day of Kindergarten and I am glad I chose to sit there up to this very day.
10: Some people when they grow up want to be a professional sports player. Football, basketball, or baseball. But ever since I was little, I had always wanted to be a sportswriter. I had always loved to write and have always enjoyed sports. The way sports writers are a part of the team are one of the many reasons why I had wanted to be a sportswriter when I grow up. One of the reasons I had wanted to be a sportswriter is that I love to write. I love writing about sports especially. Every weekend in the fall, my parents would get mad because I never leave the house due to college and professional football on television. I know a lot about sports and have a lot of trivia knowledge of sports. Sometimes when I am watching the games, I feel like writing little notes down on what happens in the game and then post it in a word document and just pretend that it is getting posted onto a blog or sports website. I love writing and I think I could write for a newspaper for a sports team preferably a Houston team. Another reason why I had always wanted to be a sportswriter is the sports section of the newspaper. Everyday when I was little and still do up to this day, I read the sports article of sports writer and I read the boxscores of game to see the results of games from the previous night. I love reading anything about sports. For Christmas I would get all these books about sports writers and excerpts of their writing. On my wall in my room, I have magazines cover and newspaper articles of famous sporting days hung up on the wall. When I read these clippings, books, and articles, I just get more excited about thinking of being a sports writer.
11: My final reason why I had always aspired to be a sportswriter is the access the sports writers get before and after games. When people say they want to be a professional sports player, they don’t know the nervousness and pressure the sport brings onto you. When you’re a sportswriter though, your job is too write a story about the pressure a player feels before a big game, or the nerves in his stomach if a player is about to break a record. It is like being paparazzi, you have to break the news and find a story. The access you get to interview famous sports players, get to know their personal life, and get on a first name basis with them is something any sports fan in the world would love. You get to go across the United States and go to famous ballparks, football stadium, and basketball arenas. Being a sportswriter would be a dream come true for me. The games on television, the sports section of the newspaper, the unique way of writing, and the access sportswriter gets are why I want to be a sportswriter. Not many fifteen year olds would not think about this job and still would try to chase a dream of professionalism in sports. A dream that I have wanted for nine years is now starting to come together one step at a time. You need to feel the love to write and love sports. I have those two traits. I love to write and I love watching sports. Don’t ever give up on your dreams because they might just come true.