I haven’t mentioned it here much, but every Sunday, I played soccer with a few other people — mostly Penn State people, but we’ve picked up a few neighbors and others.
I started this after having played wallyball with Mike — they don’t play in the summer, and there had been a little bit of buzz about it. Someone else started it up, but quickly stopped coming, and I gladly took over. I set up a mailing list and sent weekly harassment reminder emails. At our best, we got up to 5-v-5 which got to be some real fun.
We’re now in our second “season” and this is one more thing that I’m going to miss about the upcoming move. I warned people in my last harassment email that this past Sunday was likely the last game that I’d be able to make. I was hoping that this would mean a bunch of people who don’t come regularly would make the effort to do so. One did, which brought our total up to 5 players. Oh well.
Still, I was incredibly touched as this Sunday, Mike and Juan hung a HUGE sign that said “Congratulations!” and “Carolyn & AC, We’ll Miss You!” They also presented me with the trophy on the left. The caption on the image is what the trophy says. I have as much claim to being “Altoona Soccer Champion” as I have to being president of the moon — which is to say, it’s possible, but not terribly likely! I teared up a little, as did Carolyn when I told her this story. At the end of the game, I gave my soccer ball, and the cones I’d been bringing to Juan so that he could carry on the tradition. I’m going to stay on the mailing list so that I can watch the activity at least!
I’ll reiterate what amazing people we’ve found in Altoona. I think it’s one of the strengths of a small community in a small town. I keep coming back to Robert Axelrod’s “The Evolution of Cooperation” — the relevant bit of which is basically that the more often you are going to have to interact with someone in the future, the more it pays to be nice to themActually, the recommendation is to start “nice” and use the “tit-for-tat” strategy. My little summary here is both incomplete and inaccurate, but suffices to make my point. I recommend actually reading the book, it’s a surprisingly adept application of game theory to a number of apparently different situations from biology to sociology to political science..
Regardless of whether it comes about from small-town-ism, or just good fortune, I’m happy to have drawn such nice and considerate people into my life, and sorry to be letting them go. Carolyn and I each experienced sadness from this tale, but with very different flavors. My sadness was painted with appreciation for the love shown to us even in our departure. Carolyn’s was colored with the guilt of leaving these great people behind. Though we’ll each do it in our own way, we’re both going to miss people here a great deal.