Day Three: Size Matters

One of the reasons I wanted to come to the US Open is that the center has the largest tennis stadium in the world.  Arthur Ashe Stadium can seat 23,000 people.  I wanted to hear all those folks cheering the world’s best players during the evening sessions.  Nighttime in New York!

My seats in Arthur Ashe are about as high as you can get.  So far I have been directly behind the baseline, looking almost straight down at the players.  It’s a weird angle, and they’re so tiny.

As the Open enters its second week, Ashe will get more full.  But right now it’s half or less.  Hope springs eternal that the roar of 23,000 fans will blast my eardrums in the days to come.

Now … consider Court 17.  Here’s what it looks like:

Twenty-five hundred folks, and it was rockin’!  I could see the sweat and hear the breathing as Federico Coria or Gael Monfils lunged for the ball.  Yes!  This is what I want.  Small is beautiful.

Speaking of which, one of the matches on 17 featured Emma Raducanu, a teen from Great Britain.  A tiny girl in the front row held up a homemade sign for Emma.  As the breeze tossed it around, I could read the word “Love”.  Emma smiled back.

At the end of the match, which Emma won, she spent at least ten minutes signing programs and giant tennis balls.  Selfies abounded, always with that giant smile.  Every little kid who came up to the low fence bordering the court was “seen”.  Lovely and just what the world needs.

I’m happy.

Day Thirty-Eight: Size

I was walking home to the Y in Berkeley last night when I came upon a football field. Young people were running laps and throwing frisbees in front of bleachers that could seat hundreds. Floodlights brought the scene alive. I assumed this was a college … but then the athletes seemed younger than that. Beyond the goal posts was a huge white building. Off to the side were others. As I continued on the sidewalk, there was a sign: “H Building”. Woh. What is this place?

Between the field and the street were letters carved into a low cement wall. They were partially obscured by bushes but I got the gist – “Berkeley High School”!

Here’s what the Internet told me:

Berkeley High School is a comprehensive four-year school serving approximately 3000 students. BHS is unique in that it is the only public high school in a community of over 100,000. Drawing from a diverse racial, ethnic and socioeconomic population, students embrace a broad spectrum of people and ideas.

A high school with more people than my hometown of Belmont in Canada! Oh my God. I tried to imagine what such size would mean for teens battling self-esteem issues. Would belonging to an immense community come easily, or would many students feel lost? What would lunch in the cafeteria feel like?

I welcome “a broad spectrum of people and ideas” but would I be able to find these folks? Would I be willing to speak up in the presence of the masses or would I retreat into my cave?

Naturally I don’t know what the culture of BHS is like. It could be marvelous. It probably is. I’ll likely never find out. Tomorrow I’m homeward on the big bird.

I love discovering the new … and wondering how I’d be in the middle of it. Seems to me that lots more newness is coming my way. Bring it on.