...often times they're spaced apart like thin sprouts of foliage over barren soil. Difficult to find on occasion. Sometimes even harder to keep once attained. But then, come to think of it, that's the beauty of friendship. Like the sun's warmth upon one's shoulders, nothing generates a smile more than a colleague, a peer...a friend.
Fellow writer and blogging buddy, Donna Hole, recently awarded me the "Friends for the Journey, Encouragement" award. And while, considering my tedious schedule, am often prone to accepting awards, then allowing them to smolder and fizzle out, in this case, I'm sparing a moment to share the love.
The objective...pass the badge along to seven friends as we all trek onward, sharing our experiences while straining for the goal...always so close, but...
To Brie from "Brie the Cheese," a college girl, buried in her studies, who still manages to sneak in a spare minute or two for commenting on my gibberish.
To Jules from "Trying to get over the Rainbow," a task she's achieving nicely. Read her work and you'll agree.
Follow the legs in heels to Wendy Tyler Ryan, and you'll find more than a pair of well sculpted lower limbs...her voice reeks of poetic soul, a future publication practically a foregone conclusion.
Jodi Henry from "Turning the Page," is not only a mother, a lucky fellow's significant other, but somehow finds enough time to hammer the keys and paint her literary masterpiece. Give her a read...she won't disappoint.
To the "Golden Eagle," an avid book worm and dedicated critic/admirer of storytellers both well known, as well as those just starting out. (I'm keeping my promise...you'll be getting one of my first copies momentarily:)
To that Georgia peach, Olivia J. Herrell, from "That Rebel with a Blog," who's currently typing up a southern belle that I can't wait to read. Agents take notice...this girl's got moxie.
And finally, one can not journey through Blogland without hearing wind of Roland Yeomans, and his recent release, "The Bear with Two Shadows." It's of my utmost opinion, that he's simply the best online writer whom one can enjoy with nothing more than the click of a mouse. At the moment he's invaded N.R. Williams's writing pad, discussing "The Bear," touring the land, spreading the word. And for sharing his pad, as friends often do, N.R. gets the badge as well:)
And speaking of forming friendships...
...I stood atop the pitcher's mound, feeling uncomfortable. Coach Hummel dropped a ball into my mitt and backed up.
Having never practiced pitching, I wasn't even sure what kind of windup to use. Standing on the rectangular, rubber marker atop the mound, I kicked up my foot, stumbled through a cloud of dust, and released a throw that sailed high into the air, above Bruce's head, behind home plate, and into the backstop.
I heard an exhale of breath from behind me where I knew Coach Hummel was standing. Bruce retrieved the ball and tossed it back, confusion upon his face.
Unsure of what to try next, I ended up duplicating my first attempt. Again the ball sailed high, nearly eight feet into the air before clanging off the fencing behind home plate.
Glancing out of the corner of my eye, I noticed that Coach Hummel had turned his back on me, choosing to stare off toward the distant parking lot rather than offering me any advice.
"One more, Kaufman," he said. "Then let's call it a day."
I turned and faced Jason one last time. A tear was gathering at the corner of my good eye. The other was now swollen to the point where my vision had tightened to a slit.
And as I gathered the strength for a final pitch, Bruce stood up from behind home plate, and jogged toward me. He pulled the baseball from my mitt, massaging the leather, his eyes focused. We stood there, studying each other before he finally spoke.
"Look, I've watched you in dodge ball all winter," he said. "You and Richie have the best arms in your class. I hate playing against you two because you throw it so friggin hard."
With his cleated foot, Bruce kicked my left heal off the rubber. Then he nudged my right foot until it barely touched the corner of the marker.
"It's called toeing the rubber," he said. "You're tripping over it when you throw. Don't step over it. Kick up your knee and glide along beside it. Wind up your arm just like you do in dodge ball."
He met my questioning gaze before continuing. "You love throwing a dodge ball at me. This is the same thing, just a smaller ball. Don't even look at Jason. Just throw it at me. Try to get me out like we're in the gym at recess. And think of something that pisses you off. That always helps me."
Having never actually spoken to Bruce before, I remained quiet, considering his taut expression, unsure why he was helping me. It was true. I was always trying to get him out in dodge ball. Always gunning for him, the top athlete in the third grade. And yet, here he was, offering me advice.
As if understanding my confusion, Bruce shrugged his shoulders and mumbled, "You know, Jason's a dick." With that, he turned and jogged back to his spot behind home plate.
Releasing a deep breath, I studied Bruce's open mitt, realizing that he was right. I was still throwing at him. My favorite target. Just a different ball. A different game.
Completely ignoring Jason's presence, I did as Bruce instructed. Pulling the ball back in a long windup, much like I had grown accustomed to doing while tossing the large rubber dodge balls during recess. I reared back and fired a blazing strike, right over home plate, right into Bruce's mitt, and way in front of Jason's failed attempt at making contact. The ball cracked as it sunk into the glove, causing Coach Hummel to turn.
Across the infield, I could hear several players whistling their approval.
"Throw another one, Kaufman," Coach Hummel said...
"South of Charm" 2011
Thanks for reading