The last time I saw pink soccer cleats, they were new and shiny, as if for the first time in a long while. Now that season’s gone by, I’m not even sure which way I am supposed to change. My feet are starting to become more tingly and I’m getting tired of this feeling. But my legs do feel heavy to my side when I stand up on them. To me, it feels like there is something about these shoes on my body that isn’t quite right. It’s almost as if they aren’t meant to be where they are. Maybe, they are only meant to fit one foot. Or maybe, they just weren’t made with enough flexibility.

Regardless, no matter what the reason may be, what matters for me remains simple: these shoes are killing me. Each week, the pain and discomfort get worse. And every day, the constant pressure makes my legs sore. Even though the red color doesn’t hurt, my knees hurt when walking around the house with them on.

Sometimes, walking down the hall is difficult pink soccer cleats because I can’t seem to move them off them. So much so, sometimes I want to cry. I think it’s best if I don’t speak of this anymore since I know how things are. Instead, let me just tell you that it hurts. Especially now, at times, I find myself thinking that I might have arthritis because of all this stress.

I decided last week that I needed to take action over these shoes. They have killed me, and no amount of sitting or moving will make things better. Besides, I am not going to wear them again until I can get them back to their original form. If possible.

Because no matter how many hours I spend out there on the field, trying to stretch our bodies, stretching each other away from the ball or kicking it, I still think of those old grey and navy striped soccer cleats from high school. That was before we had shin guards and the Pumas. Those were days — long before technology. Back then, I would step into practice in sweatpants and shorts, feeling the energy of youth and excitement.

Today people with phones flash pictures on Instagram while running through drills with parents. You could never guess who was playing, or who wasn’t. We didn’t understand how hard a run or jump would be. Once our goal kicked on, everyone was so close to the ball and our teammates that we just felt free to go anywhere. Before, we’d try out at least three different positions we had been taught, but none of those tried out on us. Not in vain, but because we wanted to try out. There would have been so much uncertainty, but there was no way to know where the game was going to land.

Most importantly, we were too close to the ground, and they were getting closer. As far as the players were concerned, they were part of the team. All the cool kids did whatever they liked, but nobody was really told what to do; no rules were enforced. In fact, most of us couldn’t read the instructions. That was okay, we were young, and we didn’t care. The important thing was being able to go wherever we wanted. After training, I felt comfortable standing up in an airship parking lot and trying on a pair of Adidas Nike tennis shoes.

The next day, the same thing happened. When I entered any of the facilities at the football field this season, I noticed two lines formed by a number of students on their faces. One line started at 10:30 a.m., another at 5 p.m. These lines are different from the usual ones you see on the outside of your locker, like “you cannot pass the ball at 11 a.m.” No matter what you do all morning, nobody has the guts to look you up in that face. People assume you must be drunk or high — or perhaps both. It does not feel right. It’s like someone locked two chairs together to stop you from reaching over their shoulders, and that’s exactly what happens.

What happens when the gym teacher points her finger down their noses and yells, “Look over here! Look at all the trash on top of your head! This is why you need to work harder! Do you want your hands clean? Good, you got five minutes! Go sit on the bench and work some more! Take your shoes off and put them in here! Remember, you don’t have to eat lunch at 3:00! This is one of the few schools that serves breakfast, right after all their classes. Some kids come in and sit down near the bar. Others sit on the floor in the hallway, sipping coffee and talking. At the beginning of class, I hear the chatter between two girls chatting about friends. Eventually, a boy runs to the front of the group, grabs his desk, and starts yelling at someone, saying he can’t stand people looking at him down his nose. He gets yelled at and he puts himself under strict control. His anger is directed towards others in the classroom, and not at himself.

Everyone sees that this kid struggles. A small voice inside tells him that he will do better on the court or that he should sit quietly and listen while he works on self-control. This voice won’t shut up. It won’t leave him alone. So, he stays quiet. He listens but doesn’t say anything back. Then, at 4:15, he breaks from silence. He speaks loudly.

  • Why was he silent up until that point?
  • Why didn’t he tell anyone about his feelings?
  • Who would ever believe him the moment he said anything?

Finally, at the end of class, he goes up to shake the hand of a girl, but she stops him. She says, “he can only do well if he sits quietly and listens.” How dare he say anything else? Nothing he says matters more than being heard. Suddenly, he leaves the room, leaving her alone. A few moments later, her father enters. Both sit down on opposite sides of the table with their backs facing away from one another.

He looks at her name tag and reads, “I’m sorry, M. O. L., your mother’s name. Have a seat.” Something about this statement sounds familiar. Her mother, M.O.L., sat with a similar smile before coming to school every day. Her mother’s birthday was coming up soon. Someone took pictures of her in gym clothes. pink soccer cleats Next to me sat another mom on the playground in leggings and sports bra. Like M. O. L., she had this habit of smiling and laughing while she was working out. One day, while walking towards the center of our gym during warmups, I asked her how she was doing in life. Without hesitation, she responded with, “all fine, we have some amazing moms. I wish I was as strong and confident as you are.” Since then, whenever she saw me, she always smiled and laughed. It seemed to mean everything to her. The first time I walked onto the field to play lacrosse, she would rush to greet me and hug me, asking questions about who I was and my role in the sport. I had never met an adult who didn’t ask me about my day.

Somehow, I knew she understood the importance of helping me grow. Looking back from all that time, I feel relieved that she was happy about me, instead of trying to hide it from me. I think that shows me how important friendship had been to her. Friendships are not given, just forged at a young age. As we age, friendships begin to decline. This year, I am lucky. I can count on four adults who love me for who I am. On Thursday mornings, they pick out clothes for me because the style fits that particular day. With that, our lives were changed forever. For those of you that don’t remember my childhood, my grandmother and aunt raised me and my twin brother. We grew up on an acreage behind their home, living in a trailer with seven siblings and cousins. Grandma used to tell stories about growing up poor and seeing the struggle of having to feed the whole family. By the time I turned 12 years old, a good portion of the bills had already been paid out. When they finally sold the ranch, she had to move out. But she always had a place to stay, and that’s where I stayed.

Now, I can’t imagine spending even three weeks a month in a place where I don’t know what is in store for my future. Just the idea of packing up everything I own, going somewhere else to live, and telling my family I can’t return for four months has my heart racing. Imagine the anxiety I’ve experienced trying to figure it all out. I also thought about the possibility of leaving home and losing my job. I would certainly miss my little brothers and sisters, but the chance would probably outweigh the sacrifice I was making. Yet,

I still thought about quitting. It wouldn’t be fair to go through this process and not experience the joys. Plus, there was nothing I could do to fight for my rights. Life, to this day, has taken its toll on me. Every year, my knee gets stronger and harder to bend. My ankles, hip, shoulder, and elbow bones have also shrunk, causing me to suffer from osteoarthritis.