Magazine article Vegetarian Times

Meeting OF THE Feet

Magazine article Vegetarian Times

Meeting OF THE Feet

Article excerpt

In New York, social barriers are no match for a well-placed kick in the grass

When I moved to Manhattan years ago, 1 was apprehensive. Although life in the city is fast, fun and exhilarating, the sheer mass of human traffic is suffocating on the streets and subways. You quickly learn to disappear into a magazine or an iPod until you get where you're going. Everybody does it, and I think we all suffer for it.

I certainly did. As much as I loved my work and the daily surprises of the city, by my first summer, the heat and congestion on the street were getting to me. Then one humid weekend afternoon, my friend Pete invited me to a refuge from the concrete-Central Park-to kick a ball around. Our soccer history traces back to the first day of high school in suburban New Jersey, so I couldn't say no. Unfortunately, the moment our ball hit the grass, an official materialized, told us the field was "softball only" and asked us to leave. The park is big-843 acres-but step onto a field without the right ball or permit, and you get the boot.

Tbis happened to us four times across the park in about half an hour. The officials were just doing their jobs, but we were ready to head back home, flip on the AC and just watch the sport on TV. Then we saw it: A patch in a far-off corner of the park, where a bunch of guys were playing the world's game. It was a fairly big space, but the terrain was so strewn with rocks, bumps and exposed dirt that no one was fighting to play softball there. The guys looked South American and, judging from their artistry in maneuvering the ball toward makeshift backpack goals, skilled in a way that said, "Don't step on this field if you can't bring it." I was aching for some footie, and Pete isn't shy; a few head nods later, the game was on.

For the next two hours, we ran, dribbled, passed and shot. We didn't talk much, but we played like we'd known the other players for years. …

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