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Eyes up, heart open

Carla Ten Eyck

Downtown Hartford Riverfront Engagement Session

I met Samm and Jelan when my son Jackson was asked to try out for the basketball team. Coach Tucker approached Jack (he was 6″1″ as a freshman) and made him feel wanted and included. Despite Jack not knowing anything about basketball he agreed to try out, and the rest is history. Confession time: I used to hate basketball. Like, loathe it. I’m not quite sure why, when I really just stop and ask myself, if I am being 100% honest! When Jack joined I was immediately interested, for reasons that I am confident don’t need explaining. I got to know each player’s name, their positions, their strengths and their weaknesses on the court. I watched them improve, or become ineligible for play. I cheered each and every player on at every game like I got paid for every hoot and holler. I was THAT Mom, and I owned it fully.

Samm and I got to know one another during each game when we would sit near one another and commiserate on bad calls or she would explain what certain penalties were. I learned SO MUCH last year about this game that I used to hate. My favorite part of all of it? Was finding out that I can learn to love new things with such fervor! What a lesson for me to just allow myself to be open to enjoying something new in life. It’s changed me on a fundamental level and I am trying new things way more than I used to. Now, you may be thinking that you are soooooo open minded and ‘love to try new things’ (as many people write with such earnest on their dating profiles) But the opposite I have found to be is what is true. We are a bunch of old dogs, set in our ways who think trying a new app for happy hour is ‘being open to new experiences’! HA! And yes, the irony of me learning to love basketball and golf is the safest most middle of the road new thing to learn to love, and I own that 100%, and I am laughing at myself at the same time, TRUST ME.

My favorite Samm memory was this winter when I was on a trip to Vermont and would miss one of the basketball finals. I was beyond devastated as I was completely invested in each game and their success as a team. Samm offered to FaceTime me in for the game and I heartily accepted! I was beyond excited, and despite us having a quiet dinner planned at the Vermont house I was at, I accepted the FaceTime call and yelled and screamed my heart out during the entire game that night!  What a cumbersome and annoying thing to have to hold a phone steady for an ENTIRE basketball game, but Samm was such a trooper and was fully committed. My appreciation is real! IT WAS SO EXCITING! And yes, we won!

Jelan is a whole other story. I have been hearing about this guy since he was a high schooler. One of my best friends, Susannah, was his counselor at Classical and just ADORED Jelan. She was so invested in his success as a human being, not just as a student and was always so proud of him. I grew to love this high schooler through the stories I would hear told with such love. When we made the connection that Jelan was Jackson’s coach she squealed with delight all the way from her job as a counselor in India and I swear I heard it! He was such a great coach for Jackson; he was empathetic, patient and had a huge and sensitive heart. He saw my Jack for the big heart that he is, and encouraged that while teaching him how to be a part of a team.

During summer workouts for basketball there were many days when it would just be Jackson that would show up. He and Jelan would work out for hours together and Jack would come home sweaty, exhausted but excited about everything that he learned that afternoon. He thrived with the concentrated attention and grew to love basketball even more.

When I heard that Samm and Jelan were getting married I was thrilled for them. Jackson mentioned that I was a photographer and that they should chat with me and well, the rest is history! I am so thankful for both of them and am excited for their wedding! It’s not until next year, and we have another ENTIRE basketball season to get through together, but I could not be looking forward to it more. Congrats Samm + Jelan XOXOXOX

 

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