Eyeshield 21: Charge of the Regulars

Chapter 3: The Chance of a Lifetime

This was it. My team and I are going to Japan. I jumped up and down like a cheerleader on the sidelines, excited by the big news, "Cálmate, what did you get in the mail?" mom asked as she was placing down the plates. My dad chuckled as he put down his paper. My mom and dad saw the notice from the team, and they group-hugged me in the kitchen

"Well done, sweetheart," said my dad ruffling my hair, "I feel this will be great for you, you get to play the sport you love, and explore what makes you, well...'you'," my parents don't have to remind me to keep up my grades. My papi's right. I've never been to Japan in my life. I only speak a bit of Japanese thanks to my grandparents on my papi's side.

The cool thing is I have two sets of grandparents from my mom's and my dad's sides. My grandparents live in the Bay Area in a town called Hercules along with Aunt Yuina and Uncle Kaito whom live in San Jose with cousin Rieko. That's my Japanese half. On my Latina side, my grandparents live in Miami. Aunt Raquel and Uncle Guillermo are in Orlando

"I can't believe it, we're going to Japan!" I cheered

"And we're so proud of you," said my mom, stroking my hair

"Wait 'til the family hears about this," added my mom,

"Both sides of the family," said my dad, trust me, the family gatherings can get interesting. The best way to describe how my parents met is that my mom followed her heart. They were students at UMass. My mom was the Mexican, and my dad was the Japanese-American from the West Coast. My mom was always a rebel, and just did things her way

One thing led to another, and I was born. Growing up, my favorite song was Belinda Carlisle's 'Heaven is a Place on Earth', and I have a hard time picking which parts of where I've lived where that song fits. Part of me wants to say Gloucester, Mass, the other is saying the Orlando Area in Florida or the Bay Area in California. Each has a heavenly charm

Some will expect my Latina half to be Cuban since they live in Florida, but no, they're Mexican. We celebrated the occasion with a trip to a Vietnamese restaurant in Springfield called 'Bamboo House'. They got good wings there, let me tell yah. Time passed in a blur of classes, and football practices as we all prepared for our first season abroad in Japan

"It's my first time going here by myself," I said at the terminal

"Don't worry, you'll be fine, just follow the lines," said my dad

"And if something goes wrong, call us or ask the staff," said my mom

With a hug from my dad, and a huge and a kiss on both my cheeks from my mom, I was off, "Call us when you land!" said my mom as she and my dad waved me goodbye. Here I am at the airport, by myself and rolling a couple suitcases of my stuff. My phone buzzed with 'good lucks' and 'well wishes' from cousin Rieko, Aunt Yuina, and Grandma Haruna

I soon found Trayvon waving to me. At least there's someone I can follow through the airport security. He seemed to catch the buzzing sound of my phone, "That your folks?" he asked, I nodded. Trayvon smiled like a big brother, "yeah, mine too, it's big news," he looked over at my FaceBook page where I got a new pic from Rieko, "hey, that yah sistah?"

"You made the same mistake with my mom," I teased getting a playful shove from him, I chuckled, "nah, it's my cousin Rieko, she lives in San Jose with my aunt and uncle," he has a small bit of chin hair that he scratched as he took my phone to get a look at her. Rieko was wearing jeans, and holding a poster that says 'Good Luck in Japan' in Japanese.

"She looks like how I'd picture you as a cheerleader," he teased

Delani caught up with us, "Oh? Can I see?" he asked,

"Oh for God's sake," I groaned, pinching the bridge of my nose,

I was always the tomboy growing up, and my cousin was the pretty and feminine one. She played with Barbie Dolls, and I played with Hot Wheels cars. I was given a Barbie Doll once as a kid. I tore off the clothes, and ripped the arms and legs from their sockets. Needless to say, after this Barbie Doll-themed episode of CSI, I accepted that I'm a tomboy

Look at it this way, Rieko is everything I'm not. She has long hair, and I have short and boyish hair. She likes to wear dresses, and I'd rather eat my own mouthguard than wear a skirt. Rieko is curvy, but a balanced kind of curvy and I have 'Chun-Li Thunder-Thighs'. Even with all our differences, she loves me as family and I love her back. It is what it is

The only feminine bit of me is that I like tight, back-pocketless bellbottom flared jeans or skinny jeans, "Damn, your cuz's hot, she got a boyfriend?" Delani asked, a simple turn of the screen answered that question showing a picture of her boyfriend Dylan hugging her, "fuck," he said under his breath, "here yah go," he said handing me back my IPhone.

"Thanks," I said as we were going through the security checkpoint

"I can't believe we're doing this," said a pumped-up Rashaun

"You ready for this?" asked Trayvon going through the metal detector

"You bet," I replied with a wink, we met up with Coach at the Food Court in Terminal B, and got something to eat. With that, we went to find our gate which itself can be called a 'training exercise' hauling around all our stuff. The aching feet were not easy to ignore until we found the gate. I looked at my boarding pass, and saw the flight is over 13 hours.

Coach made an announcement after roll call. No one on the team is missing this flight for a chance at a lifetime, "Okay team, this will be a long flight, so get comfortable in your seats when ya'll board the plane," he said as we all gathered in a circle. Lots of big things happening for me. I looked to see the Japan Airlines plane. It's my first flight by myself