JJ just watched his nephews lose a soccer game. The end of a season. “They expected to win,” his sister said and JJ heard a voice in his head. It was a guy named Doc the Painter from an AA meeting in Sacramento who said, “Serenity is inversely related to your expectations.” Man, that recovery shit never leaves the brain.
A couple kids on the team cried, at least those kids with the congenital drive to win and step on the necks of kids from other towns. Most kids seemed relieved and wore rueful smiles. Lollipops had appeared from somewhere and JJ thought, “That was me. I would smile and cry later, alone. Then resent the whole thing for the rest of my life.”
His sister came over and put her arm around him, drawing him into the family. “Well that’s over,” she said. People were milling, saying farewell and have a good winter. November was here, hibernation coming soon, and JJ could feel it. The sun was warm but the breeze came from somewhere with real cold. Like Canada.
“Aren’t you sad,” JJ asked.
“Nah,” she said. The kids approached, sheepish but not defeated. “It’s all in good fun. Sports are fun.”
Not for me, JJ thought. Never for me. I like Wiffle Ball in the yard and football on Thanksgiving with the cousins. I like watching on TV. Or seeing the lights of a night game from the highway, a world illuminated as he passed in the dark, there and then gone, not too close.
“Hi, Uncle Jason.” Nephew One said.
“Thanks for coming.” Nephew Two said.
They came to JJ together and gave sideways hugs, one on either side, pressing their heads briefly against his ribs. “You guys are fantastic,” JJ said.
“Coach said we’ll get ‘em next year,” Nephew One said.
“Let’s get something to eat,” Nephew Two said.
JJ bought hot dogs and sodas for his nephews as his sister talked with some other parents. Nephew One said, “Can we come to the farm for Thanksgiving?”
Nephew Two said, “I want to play football in that side yard. We were talking about that. Can we do that?”
“And don’t you have a turkey on your farm we could eat?”
JJ thought of his hot tub and basketball court in the barn. He thought of the native forest he was planting in the old fields. He thought of his lottery money and how he hadn’t thought of his lottery money during the whole game. It was time to button up for the winter and get closer to these family people. Thanksgiving would be a good start.
“It’s not that kind of farm. I don’t have any animals,” JJ said. “But we’ll definitely get a turkey.”