My Latino friends who taught me how to (really) play checkers called it a “chanchito” (piggy) when you were able to trap your opponent’s piece so it could not move.
The distinctive checkerboard decor of the Checkers where I wait outside for a burger reminds me of those long ago days at the drop-in center playing games, trying to build peace between gangs.
At an elementary school across the street, I hear the screams of children at recess. I resist the urge to reach for my phone which is my goto habit when I am waiting. I would simply obsess over the news of the most recent school shooting.
Instead, I try to remain present to this moment of waiting. I feel the sun’s caress on my face. I think of life and checkers. I ponder why there seem to be no kings on this checkerboard, why it seems we all are chanchitos trapped in an endless cycle of violence.
I listen intently to the joy of children at play.