Devin103 10/27 Year of the Plague

My favorite room in our cottage is Devin’s old room. The front second floor room, his old bedroom is his temple. The second floor was an unfinished attic in our old house when we bought it in 1983, the year he was born. The vaulted ceilings are 12 feet and all surfaces now are beaded tongue and groove spruce. And one corner is covered with his high school track team memorabilia. Medals and ribbons and pictures. Other photos of him running are hung around the tung oil stained spruce walls. My favorite room now used to exercise in and as I move around doing tai-chi I smile as I scan over the track pictures I took. Starting with 8th grade pics – one of him finishing a 2 mile race (9 min 36 sec).

Running two miles, each mile less than 5 minute when he was in 8th grade. His athletic prowess was inherited and a product of his upbringing. J’s mom and dad, retired, caring people, lived next door and had one grandchild – they were devoted to him. And there was Toyo Myazaki a champion kick boxer, his cousin, his sensei from age 6. And me, always available.

Tom and Eleanor, J’s parents had the cottage whose backyard joined ours. They were extraordinary people,

Toyo’s dojo was nearby – three of Dev’s cousins, Kenny, Jason, Chelsea worked for Toyo. When Dev was 11, I stopped working out, kickboxing with him. His 11 year old kick raised welts. At 11 he was tall, unmovable. Years of karate gave him a quiet confident balanced stature.

And they say that “only children” often are the playmate of a parent. I’ve felt that 40 is a great age to have a child because you’re no longer a young athlete. If you’re a 30 year old biker used to 100 mile rides you don’t want to hang out with an 11 year old. If you’re a 30 year old soccer player you don’t want to play with an 11 year old. But if you’re a 50 year old ex-biker/ex-soccer person – no problem. When Dev was born I decided/learned that spending time with him was as valuable as time spent groping J. And being a professor I had complete control of my time.

Our neighborhood could have been designed as a “Bike Park”. Miles of quiet hilly streets – endless – and Cunningham Park – miles more. We did dirt bikes or toured Long Island. When he was 5 or 6 he struggled to keep up. But I was 50 and not competing anymore with my friends. By age 10, I was struggling (and happy to do it). And I was always available.

We chose his high school – he didn’t get into a “special” NYC high school – he applied to the one on Queens College campus. We didn’t want to send him into Manhattan to a private school. The cute private school near us was too small to have good athletics. The local Catholic HS had a track coach who already made a pedofilic move on him. Many of the kids from Buckley Country Day School, out on the Island, his elementary school, went to the fancy Friends Academy – also too small, too far out on the Island – half the kids with lemos – a bit much.

So Dev ended up at Chaminade HS. Not a Jesuit school so not too special, all boys (both J & I went to mono-ed schools) and 150 boys on the Track Team. Five coaches.

Many meets at the New York Armory. A football field size room with a ¼ mile track framing the field, tiers of stands. A thosand kids at a time from a dozen schools. Outdoor meets and campuses around the state. In ninth grade his first HS meet was at Stonybrook, my almamater. I learned an early lesson in sports photography by standing too close past the finish line to a 100 yard dash. These boys are really pumping. Dev’s thighs on a 6’2” body are a quarter of his body weight. He ran into me 5 yards back past the finish line. Click. And I was astonished … his first race and he won. “Hey, That’s My Boy”

And they ended up with a fine mile relay team. A proud center-stage event at meets. 4 runners each doing a ¼ mile (usually once around the football size track). Each under 60 seconds, maybe. A 4 minute event.

And the Penn Relays. And the “States” annual indoor and outdoor meets. Got him into a good college and a wall full of medals red/gold Varsity Letters Cs (for Chaminade). Same school colors, crimson and gold and same letter as my HS.

As I look back comes a smile and tear. Time well spent.