Written by Prarthana Nandwani
We all grew up having to be teamed up. That moment when the person you loathe the most in the entire world is now your offense partner in school soccer. When the boy or girl you had a crazy crush on is called out as your lab partner. The same person who you spend sleepless nights thinking of either how to tease, or get their attention, is now suddenly having to spend hours with you after school. Precipitation forms on your neck and face at the mere thought of it.
“Priiiiiinngggg!” The school bell rings way louder than usual. As if I needed it – been thinking about this day for a while. The day when I’d have to play with Rob at Intramurals Soccer. Can’t believe they teamed us up! Hated him from the moment I saw him back in Grade 1! We’ve tortured each other to no end since that day – me coming up with pranks to make his life more and more miserable, he constantly annoying me in and out of class. Peeling off my uniform in the locker rooms, I noted Rob at the corner of my eye grabbing his new red Adidas cleats. My hands balled into fists – even the way he ties his laces is weird! Can’t believe he bought shoes matching the team colors. I rush out into the field hoping that the wind’ll make me feel better. “Just don’t pass – obvi!” I say to myself.
I note our soccer coach out over at the middle of the sunny, manicured soccer field over at Malibu, CA. Looks so chill and smug, as if he paired us up on purpose! Not to be cocky or anything but I was MVP last year and I think he’s just playing with me, testing me…
The whistle blows shrilly in my ear as Nick and I kick off. I love the feeling of the ball dribbling between my silver cleats as I zoom forward. Clumps of dark turf soar behind me with every sprinting step. Jen and Pri from the opposing team dart towards me, all fierce and intense in their golden jerseys. Skirting them as I sidestep the ball around J. and spinning it around P. Approaching the penalty box fast. The goal looks so big and inviting. Sadly a sea of gold jerseys block all the possible paths. Passing the ball to Nick who’d been sprinting along parallel the entire time while jumping in front of a golden defender. He fake passes, and steps over the offense. Rob appears out of no where at the corner in his little red jersey. He’s actually at the perfect spot to pass to me. Nick passes to Rob! Can’t believe he passed to Rob! What’s he going to do? I jump back and forth between the two defenders freeing myself up for ball. I never needed Rob as much as I did now, never saw Rob as accessible as he does now! I can work with him, it can work, he just needs to kick down…”Thump-ping!!!!!” Rob hits the sweet spot as the ball soars in the most perfect arc – towards me! He’s amazing! I catapult towards the air as my forehead connects with the ball, urging it to the rushing ground. The goal stands still inviting at my 11 o’clock, but I’m still boxed in. Rob’s moving fast in from wide, I back tap the ball to him as he sprints off with it. The defenders sprint off with him leaving me wide open! Rob looks up from the turning and dribbling, sees me. The eye contact only lasted a split second but it said it all:
In real life we are whatever, but right now in this scenario I am going to work with you. Not for you, not for me, but for all of us.
Another perfect “Thump-ping” as the inner side of his red cleat makes contact with the ball, sending it flying in my direction. A head rush of adrenaline. An electric tingling as I volley Rob’s pass – just ever so slightly up – and time stops for a millisecond with my leg swung back preparing for what I’m about to do. Eyes locked on the goal. Judging aim, power, and sniper precision. Ball descends from volley as my right leg swings forward at supersonic speed, muttering a quick “thanks Rob” under my breath before letting it fly. The goalie whips corner right, almost levitating for a second as the tip of his glove barely scrapes the ball as it escapes him. Silence.
Goal — goal? GOAL! GOAL!
A sea of red jerseys blurs my vision. “Well done bro!” “Awesome man!” “That was sick!” I spot Rob in his red cleats, high five him, and skip back to center field.
Living in a busy city like L.A., New York, Dubai or the like presents us with situations on the road everyday. We could always see the cars in front and around us as Rob – enemies that we have to try and beat or “tease” to get our way. We could cut others off, not give way when needed, and just generally create an unpleasant and dangerous scenario. However, if we start to see the road as an environment in which we must cooperate, where the vehicles around are teammates that we have to compromise with and work with in order to score (goal), we may actually start to enjoy our drives.