I had my keys stolen tonight.

It will prove to be a pain in the butt, losing office and leave time to wait for a locksmith to change the locks and worrying about our things in between, but that of course is not the main blow. What does smack is that just as this spoken word workshop seems to be getting rolling, I am reminded that putting oneself out there to do something does come with its risks.

I’d been playing ball at the Rec, running a pick-up, waiting to get in for a second run, when I noticed that my bag was missing. My slip-on shoes were there, but my keys, spare shirt and the drawstring bag within which I’d stashed them were gone. I notified Tanya, whom I’d gotten to know a little last week and who quickly warmed to the workshop idea. After searching around the bleachers, I checked the men’s room, where I found the bag within one of the stalls, sans keys. Another of the kindhearted staff searched underneath the bleachers and spoke to the kids and adults who remained at the gym, but to no avail.

“They don’t know that all this is only temporary,” he explained. “And when they reach the pearly gates, they’ll have to answer to Him, and this sort of thing doesn’t look good.”

I’ve reached the point at which I recognize almost all of the guys who play at the Rec, even if I only know a handful of them by name. But it’s become quickly apparent that being a semi-familiar unusual face does not equate to being an accepted one. Perhaps they thought I’d brought money (I never do); perhaps it wasn’t personal. But this won’t stop me from coming. If anything, it makes me more aware that I need to market the workshop thoughtfully, removing my own fingerprints and allowing the benevolent power of the art to speak to the young folk itself.

At an ECCA (civic) meeting following the loss, I shared my plans with my neighbors, and several are interested in working together on similar programs for youth in our neighborhood. It’s great to see such active interest in improving their currently barren opportunities, and the call to action on DC’s crippled education system is timely and overdue. But at this point, it’s high time that discussions become preparations for activities, and that real changes are instituted.

It’s going to be a cold winter, and I think all of us are trying to revel in the last days of pleasant Fall crispness before the chill sets in.