It is August. It is hot in Oklahoma. Serge Ibaka, power forward for the Oklahoma City Thunder, is running in a field. The field is green. He’s getting in shape for the season. He’s going to have to play a healthy dose of the 5 this year as the Thunder continue their love affair with small ball and he has to be in tip-top shape.
He’s sweating and his lime green Nike LunarGlides are pounding the grasses of Edmond, OK. He has his iPod in and he’s listening to Train while he runs. He is getting tired. He comes to a clearing in the field and he stops. This Oklahoma heat is nothing compared to the Congo, but the seven miles he has run today has taken a lot out of him and he needs to rest. His hands are on his knees and the sun beats down on him and beads of sweat form on his back. He hears the trickle of water close by and he looks up. Some twenty-five yards to the east of where he stands is a stream.
As he approaches the stream, he sees a shade tree on the opposite bank. A deer stands underneath it. The deer drinks from the stream. As Serge approaches, the deer lifts his head from the water and sees him. They both freeze. Serge holds his hands out in front of him to tell the deer that everything is okay. The deer stares back and doesn’t move. Serge reaches the bank and rocks move and click under his Nikes. The noise is enough to spook the deer and it shoots away from the stream and runs the opposite direction, toward the sun.
Serge shakes his head and bends down. He dips his right hand into the water and drinks. The stream is no more than five feet wide. He rises up from the water. In the distance, some fifty yards away, he sees something. It is black. It is a circle. He shades his eyes from the sun. He cannot make out what it is. It calls to him, though. He hears a song in his head when he looks at it. It is Drops of Jupiter, only Akon is singing it.
The black circle is a magnet and he is drawn to it. He leaps over the stream and lands on the other side. He is refreshed and he sprints the fifty yards to the unidentified black circle. As he nears it, his eyes well up with tears.
It is a trampoline.
His most favorite thing in all the world. He takes his shoes off because you must respect the trampoline for it to respect you. He climbs onto it and goes to the center. He starts to jump. They are small jumps at first, he is getting a couple feet off the ground, nothing more. But then adrenaline takes him over and he feels comfortable and the trampoline works with him and they make music together. He jumps some ten, eleven feet in the air. He could block all of the shots in the world with this kind of leaping ability. He is practically flying. Graceful and pure as a dove he soars. He does spins and twists and somersaults. He does back-flips and front-flips and double back-flips and double front-flips. He’s just having the time of his life right now. He leaps up in the air and makes his body flat. He is planking on air, suspended. He looked like he would be at home in a cape. Then he lets gravity bring him down to the trampoline once more. He lands, chest first, then is sent shooting back up into the sky, only to come back down again and land on his feet.
It is his greatest day. He is in love with jumping and the trampoline allows him to jump in a way he never dreamed possible. He wants to stay with it forever and never stop. He could never jump this high and this well on a court. Hardwood doesn’t respond like the trampoline. The trampoline speaks to him and it is a poet.
He jumps and jumps and jumps for what feels like hours until his legs and lungs betray him and he must rest. He starts to walk back to the stream, stopping every so often to look back at the trampoline. Oh, how he loves it.
When he reaches the stream, he cups his hands and dips them into the water and sips. Then, when his thirst is quenched, he sits and leans his back against the rough trunk of the shade tree. His eyes are heavy and they want to close. He fights them. He turns to look at the trampoline once more.
It isn’t there.
He slowly gets to his feet and walks closer. He squints because this cannot be. He starts to run as fast as his body allows. He’s hobbled, but trying to sprint. The sun beats him down and he moves frantically to the field toward where the trampoline had previously been. He runs and runs and it is not there. He gets to the patch of grass that once held the trampoline and it is now an endless hole. Deep and black and going on and on forever. He leans carefully over the hole and looks down into it. Nothing but nothing. His love, the trampoline, is gone. He hangs his head. Then, without warning, the ground around the hole begins to crack. It spirals and winds and juts and he is afraid. He does not move. He hears a bird and he looks up. An eagle glides across the face of the sun. He closes his eyes. This is when the ground gives way. His feet touch nothing but air. He is falling and screaming and hoping the trampoline will meet him soon. He is a drop of Jupiter and he is sad…
…Then joy meets him. He hits the trampoline at the bottom of the blackness and shoots back up through all that dark to the light. He will trace his way through the constellations now. He has found his love once more.
Then he wakes up.
*None of this happened…especially the Serge listening to Train part. And I know what you mean. This is weird.