I cried a few times watching the World Cup. A couple of times the tears were from joy, but the last time, well,… I had no idea how attached I would get. I wasn’t a soccer fan before this World Cup. I had played soccer as a kid, watched a lot of soccer games,… this time it took. I’m not the same person now.
Unselfish play, strength, determination, heart, endurance, patience, intelligence, disappointment, joy, power, connection.
I look at our class of Oakland students through this same lens. These kids have heart. All fifteen of them. So does this town. Oakland. Our history is remarkable. In Oakland we do the remarkable. The Town will make you want to dance like Isadora Duncan, sing like John Lee Hooker, or drop a rhyme like Tupac. We wave a flag here. Yes, even with the challenges and disappointments. Even with the losses. Even when we are overlooked. Because this town is about everybody having the right to spit a verse.
Regardless of whether you go to Skyline in Oakland or Monte Vista in Danville, you deserve the right. At least that’s what we believe. That’s what we are playing for. That’s what our game is about.
We at GDF have put a flag down here in the heart of the town. For one class of students from the Fruitvale district. For one dream. All for one.
For one goal.
If you watched the World Cup, you know that sometimes one goal is all you need.
Ok, full disclosure, I have been researching “best blog titles” so long now that my eyes look like I just took a red eye.
That written, it was the summer of 84′ and I was on a family vacation in New York City with my family. I think my life dream at that time was to become an FBI agent. My Mom wasn’t excited about that. She was worried that with my lack of common sense I would end up a headline. My mom would be even less excited some years later about my wanting to drop out of college to become a rapper. Thank God I stayed in school. Here at GDF by the way, we are all about staying in school. I digress. It was a hot New York City summer morning and I was excited. The family was splitting up that day. No, not for good, for a day. I got Dad to myself and my sister and Mom were doing whatever girls did. I didn’t care. Wearing my Montreal Expos hat (I was a huge Gary Carter fan at the time), shorts and if memory serves, a cut off Canadian flag shirt (I have always been fashion senseless) Dad and I hit the town. We hopped on a bus that was heading for Washington Square park and that’s where Dad taught me the first simple thing.
1. Listen to others tell their stories. Everybody wants to tell his or her story. Ask questions. Be curious and interested.
Dad listened and engaged a couple from New Zealand on that bus ride and by the time we got off they were inviting us to stay with them in New Zealand. When you were with my Dad you felt like you were the only person in the world.
We weren’t in Washington Square Park for more than a few minutes before I saw that they were shooting a scene for my favorite TV show at the time, Fame, that day in the park.
2. Slow down. Observe. Delight in the small things.
Dad and I watched them for quite a while. So many leg warmers. I looked up and Dad was completely caught up in the moment. His face was lit up like mine was and I was the kid.
3. Never lose that childlike Christmas morning kind of excitement for life.
Dad and I walked a lot that day. And that was at the peak of my anti walking phase. That phase would pass, but not that day. Dad was great with me. He was always a go getter, but he slowed it down for me that day. A lot of times it’s not about getting somewhere.
4. Be patient. Enjoy the journey.
I fell asleep on the way back to the hotel. Sometimes I think I dreamed that day. That perfect day in NYC with my Dad. I would say good bye to my Dad in 1999. And we would start GDF in his honor.
5. Be grateful for what you have.