The swiftness of your feet clicks in the calmness of the night. The streets are untrafficked. The few pedestrians move slowly, out for leisure, not business. The whole air hums with softness. You leap over the tree roots and through the bushes into the dust of the park’s broad gutter.
No one is in the park. Your footsteps click even more isolated here. Ahead there is a soft glow.
You emerge steadily onto the basketball courts. The overhead lights bathe you. The halts of sneakers on concrete and the grunts of players fill the area, but only just. Kids who are tall with toned upper arms pivot and shoot fadeaway jumpers. Swish. Kids in unmarked basketball jerseys with skinny Achilles’ tendons take the ball to the hoop. It rims out.
During the day, the courts are sadly bare. The occasional day-camp for disabled adults unloads, or a middle-aged man and a kid shoot two-handed from the free-throw line.
During the night, the courts slowly fill. Stakes take root and as the lights come on they grow. Kids who care about basketball, kids whose bodies are not those of kids, begin the pick-up games. A thriving culture comes from nothing, a center in the nothing of the night. Such energy at such a moment. Were you anywhere else in the city you would think it unthinkable.