<
>

Coleman Collins, Living in Germany

Perhaps you remember, not all that long ago, Coleman Collins -- professional basketball player and TrueHoop contributor -- wrote about visiting Germany where he played in 2007-2008. Well, guess what! He's living and playing there again. This time in Ulm. He writes:

When you move a lot you pack a lot. You don't save much. You pick up and you leave and you pack your life into little rectangular things, or if the back of your trunk is big enough you toss your memories into the back. That's if you're driving away. If you're flying, and you probably are, most of your life has got to be left behind, because they're going to charge you for your extra bags, and then they'll charge you for them being overweight. So you end up throwing things away, giving things away, buying everything twice.

It's hard though. Sometimes I feel like I split myself in pieces when I move somewhere, and when I move away I always leave him behind. So there's a New York me and an Atlanta me. An Indiana me and an Stuttgart me, infinite mes with mirrors in front and behind them, incubating in places I haven't been yet and buried in places I'll never return to. That's what it's like, really. You die little deaths when you leave a place that you've lived in, really Lived in, where they recognize you at your favorite places and address you by name.

Choosing what to bring is always a tough time. Throwing away bits of your life. Or bits of you.

But it's funny what you find. A note from a child, thanking me for an appearance at a homeless shelter. I don't know if I have the heart to let her know that the Indiana me is gone.

I took her Christmas shopping as part of a program with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants. As we walked around the store and looked at the various items on sale, I realized she didn't understand percentages. So as we walked around the store, for every sale sign we saw, I'd stop and ask her how much the actual price was. That's what we did.

"These shoes are 50% off, and they normally cost 25 dollars. How much do they cost now?" This was the first one we'd come to, and she told me they'd cost 12 dollars, remainder 1. "Remainder? You think the cashier is gonna take remainder for an answer when we check out? No. She's gonna look at you crazy and ask where her other 50 cents is. Be serious and try again."

Maybe a bit harsh, but she got the point, and by the time we checked out she had moved on to the 25% discounts, too. We shopped and talked and learned and here was her letter, thanking me for it. Thank you for helping me with math. I'm getting a lot better. I hope you'll come back and visit us at the shelter. I couldn't make that visit, or didn't, anyway; I hope she doesn't hate me for it. I hope that meeting me, knowing me, even for a little bit of time was a positive experience for her. That's all I ever hope for with anyone, really.

So that's the bad part, the dying part. The good part is that every new place is a rebirth. And like every birth, it's a tragedy, because you know that whatever was born is going to die someday. That skin is going to sag; that hair is going to gray and fall out. Your contract runs its course, you want more money, they want to pay you less, whatever. But it's a beautiful tragedy. You meet people and make friendships, and sometimes they last. That's the amazing part; the possibility. Every baby could grow to be president. Every team could be a champion. Wandering eyes become wives, handshakes last lives. It's idealistic, sure, but I think I'm still young enough to pretend I don't know any better.

So I'm in a new place, a good place, and a new season is starting. I can't help but be happy about that.