I will never forget visiting East Texas after Hurricane Ike.
Visiting my relatives in the Golden Triangle of Jefferson County, Texas, we were all relieved that the levies in nearby Port Arthur had held out despite the heavy storm, but I was underwhelmed by the amount of damage that the gusty winds alone had ended.
My grandparents’ retirement asset, an old trailer park, looked as if the hand of some great god had reached down and played with motorhomes and recreational vehicles as if they were toys. What could have thrown them with such force?
But it is the story of a relatively intact modular home that I will never be able to stop telling.
Located near the middle of the back of the park, one of the trailers was slightly wrapped around a tree. For whatever reason, be it the relative shelter of the site, the singular sturdiness of the building, or simply dumb luck, it remained that way throughout the storm; The tree somehow prevents it from being tossed or torn in two.
It was one of the only trailers still standing, and somehow managed to avoid significant water damage to the other trailers; The only indications of her misfortune are the warping of the building around the tree, and a long, thin tear located in the middle of the mobile home, facing outward.
Fascinated by the building, I came close to peering into the gap that opened the kitchen to the outside view. And that was when I saw him. One of the tenants sat in the garden, wearing a mustache and in overalls, staring at a copy of the local newspaper, quietly eating breakfast and enjoying his morning coffee.
And so, for all I had learned about the unkindness of staring at people, I found myself standing there (with a very confused look on my face), watching this man eat his morning meal.
It didn’t take long for him to notice that he was being watched. Sensing my gaze towards him, he slowly looked up, met my gaze, and raised his coffee cup in a moment of silent recognition.
My grandfather was there behind me in a flash. He leaned into the gap and apologized to the man whose name I had long forgotten, and they exchanged warm pleasantries for a few minutes before we walked away, and I began to receive my inevitable (but sweet) rebuke.
A few minutes later, standing next to the wreckage of a different building, I heard the door of that other trailer slam behind me. After he finished his breakfast, the man in denim walked out to his truck, climbed inside, and sped off to work.
The refineries almost never shut down, my grandfather explained, and he himself is a veteran of the industry. Since there was nothing the man could do but wait for his insurance claim, it made sense to continue working and living in his mobile home.
My grandfather said, “There’s still a lot to live for.” “Cheaper than a hotel anyway, and the weather is cooling down a bit, too.”
His words and his voice stirred in my memory as I watched Devin Vassell and his buddies go into action against the similarly miserable Houston Rockets last night.
Finishing the night cool with 26 points on an impressive 58/62/100 slash, Fassel sounded like a guy completely unconcerned with the state of the franchise, the NBA standings, and the variety of conversations surrounding the nature and legitimacy of the San Antonio struggling Spurs in November.
With the team’s many injuries seemingly overnight, the off-season trade for a one-time face of San Antonio youth action, and a legion of fans demanding a siren song for ping-pong balls, Devin Vassell put it down and went right into action. Everything looks so sedate as the shift worker’s meal in the wreckage.
Not surprisingly, his teammates behaved the same way. Crisis has a way of bringing something out in leaders, and very ingeniously, Vasil becomes one.
I had the good fortune to sit back court behind the bench during last week’s Portland game, and watch as Vassell stood up to comfort Charles Basey in the midst of a difficult outing, to connect with Keldon Johnson. Tackle a tough match in Jerami Grant, cheering on Tre Jones despite an unfair challenge in tackling Damien Lillard.
It’s been 14 years since that day at the trailer park, I don’t remember the cleanup, I don’t remember the rest of the wreck, I don’t remember the names of most of the people who helped us. But I remember every wrinkle on that stranger’s face.
It’s funny the things we decide to carry with us, even unconsciously. It lives in my memory forever like the calm in the aftermath of a hurricane.
But I’m starting to feel like Devin Vassell will live there, too.
- While I’m not very familiar with Stanley Johnson’s body of work from his days in Detroit, I have to admit he was a revelation in Keldon Johnson’s light role off the bench, walking straight to the rim though defenders, and downing three. when they reeled from it. But it was his fleeting touches in particular that intrigued me. The secondary set-up has been an issue for Spurs for a while now, but Johnson has been pulling the ball around like he’s been playing in the Spurs attack his whole career. I don’t know how good his attacking style is in the long run, as he’s been shooting much better than his career marks so far (55/50 vs. 38/30), but if he can continue to present himself as this sort of passer, almost certainly He’ll find a way to stay in Alamo City.
- The entire bench was worth the love on a night as the Freshmen battled a bit in the second quarter. Jeremy Suchan has had one of his best outings of the season as he has seemingly been all over the place this season, and Zach Collins and Doug McDermott have played with an impressive degree of competence. But it was Malky Branham who impressed me the most, who spent most of the evening harassing every player he met to a point where he wasn’t stealing. He’s had two really strong games in a row now, and it looks like he might start to get his lead. I hope so, because Tottenham could really use their defence.
Your Play – Song of the Evening:
Try to reason with hurricane season by Jimmy Buffett