Thank Goodness For Baseball - America's Favorite Pastime

December 31, 2016

WEEKEND OF SEPTEMBER 16-18, 2016

 

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 16, 2016

An invitation to join my father for a baseball game was put back on the table and I accepted. It was a nice, late summer day and it sounded like a great way to end the week. Baseball is a passion for my father. He lives and breathes this stuff. If given the opportunity to go back in time, with the ability to direct and change the course of his life, he would have done whatever he could to be a professional baseball player. Parking was a nightmare because of a ticket booth malfunction at the garage. Traffic lights changed, but cars were not moving and people were making asinine decisions on the road to circumnavigate the stopped traffic. Tonight was a sock giveaway and we were getting anxious that this unexpected hold up would interfere with our home team booty. Luckily, we made it in time and there were still tons of socks by the time we walked through the iron gates. Our rush now seemed silly. The yard was buzzing with fans as the sun started to cast its golden haze on everything. There is something remarkable about walking into a stadium for a home game and feeling the palpable electricity of unified hope. Before we went to our seats, we picked up the essentials, beer and barbeque sandwiches, mine with extra horseradish.  

 

I followed my father as he led us to our seats. We stayed on the first level, and headed down, and down and further down the sections. The seats were practically on the field, only rows behind left field. I had never been this close for a game. Close enough that I could read the names clearly on the back of the player’s jerseys and close enough to yell at the ball boy. During the game we talked mostly about baseball. Very subtly, the conversation came up about my breakup. This entire time, besides the print out of inspirational quotes, the two of us had not had a full conversation about what happened. I was relaxed enough at this time that I was able to tell him without getting too emotionally distressed or closed off. It was more of a matter of fact response. The conversation didn’t last too long. He listened and provided some insight and we got back to talking about the game. I appreciated our baseball date.

 

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 17, 2016

A while ago, my friend from work mentioned he wanted to invite me and a few of our other work friends over to his house for pizza and s’mores. I call it our BSU crew, which we jokingly say either stands for Black Student Union, or Black Staff Union. We have organically formed a support group as black staff, black artists and black people in America. Lunch breaks or conversations in offices or elsewhere have helped me get through a lot lately. For one reason or the other, we have all been in need of the mutual support and we do our best to be there with open ears and hearts. I had been looking forward to this off campus meet up to blow off some steam. GPS took me on a weird route and I was the last person to arrive. Our host had already left to get the pizza, leaving his wife and daughter to entertain the troops. I hadn’t seen these ladies in a while, and it was nice to catch up.

 

When my friend got back with pizzas in hand, we all headed to the kitchen. His daughter began to warm up to the house full of strangers and stole the show. Seeing him in the context of his personal life was sweet and I appreciated him as a person even more. Around the table, we dined on the pizza, drank beer and had fun. We are each uniquely different, from various cities, talents and perspectives. It felt like long lost family. Everyone pitched in and cleaned up before we headed outside for the main attraction; the fire pit and s'mores. The yard was a lush oasis in the city, grass in the center of concrete jungle. He got the fire going as the ingredients for the s'mores were being brought out with extra chairs. The stars were in full view and the temperature was perfect. Each of us had our own plans, we were either hunkered down in a seat or had started roasting marshmallows for the s’mores. My friend’s daughter stole the show again with youthful innocence and her marshmallow sugar high. I really needed this right now.

 

By the time the moon shifted from one side of the yard to the other, two of our friends left, and my friend’s wife went in to put their daughter to bed, leaving our core group of three. While our host was in his studio breaking up more wood for the fire, I was talking with our other friend. She no longer works with us, but the three of us try to meet up and communicate often. Before tonight, I hadn’t had a chance to tell her everything that had happened with me, and I cried as I told her. There isn’t much that I wouldn’t talk to them about; I always feel safe. I was comforted by her words and the three of us talked quietly into the late hours of the night as the fire warmed us and turned from roaring flames to embers.

 

SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 18, 2016

Sunday in the Fall, means football time in these parts. An invitation was given to my grandfather to come over to watch the game. Now, with our new normal, my mother stated that she was going to make a concerted effort to invite him over socially. For the last 10 years, my grandfather had never left my grandmother’s side. Monday through Friday, during the day, he would go to McDonald’s to his ROMEO (Retired Old Men Eating Out) group to hold court. He had been faithfully going since he retired. On the evenings and weekends, he was the sole care provider for my grandmother. To my surprise, he agreed to come over and we had a bit of a spread. Hearing him say how long it had been since he had been over was a shock. I couldn’t believe it had been that long since my grandmother was unable to leave the confines of their house. We were all glad that he was willing to come out. It had been hard to gauge if he would. When he talked to my father, I could hear the sadness in his voice as he tried to explain how he was feeling, about things being different now. That visible hole in his heart could consume all of ours combined. Seeing this hurt in my grandfather makes this process more difficult, more than it was for my paternal grandmother. Her husband, my grandfather who I faintly remember, passed away when I was around 5 years old. Vividly, I can feel how it was to see my father cry for the first time on the day of his funeral. Although brief, my grandfather’s impression on me is still pretty strong. Many years ago, attending an event in honor of my sister, there was a gentleman in attendance that looked identical to this faint vision of what my grandfather looked like. Same salt and pepper hair, slight stature and smile. It truly shocked me. We all spoke to him if only out of disbelief.

 

 

WEEKEND OF SEPTEMBER 23-25

 

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 24, 2016

My nephew’s travel baseball team was playing in a championship playoff, locally at Ripkin Stadium. I was looking forward to seeing my family and I was happy to have a distraction to keep me busy for the duration of the weekend. Four weeks have passed from the breakup and my grandmother passing, and I am still reeling in pain. Since the games started early in the morning, my sister and her family decided to stay on the property instead of staying at my parent’s house. We left very early to get there before the team warmed up. It was pretty intense for 9-year-old baseball. Quite frankly, it was more intense than I was anticipating. I am all for kids participating in team sports to understand the value of cooperation and adversity, but the fans could barely stomach to watch. The entire stadium complex was crawling with people, from all over. With all the hustle of the activity, my mind still managed to wander elsewhere. I began to feel extremely anxious and thought that I had to talk to ex-boyfriend, thinking it would make it better. I called and left a message. I wouldn’t hear from him until later. He was somewhere in the world, getting ready to play. There is no real reason I can give for thinking that talking to the person that has caused me pain could help ease some of it. It’s possible that the fact that a month had passed was weighing on me and I was in a weird stage of denial. I had been in communication with him a few times since the breakup, but for whatever reason that day, I had to talk to him, hear his voice. It was hard to explain it to him as we awkwardly spoke on the phone. I realized it might have been a mistake and it confused me more.

 

SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2016 

The next day was the same as Saturday. We got there early and watched the team warm up. It was nice to see my nephew get serious about baseball, but half the time, I still could hardly watch. I can’t imagine how the kids felt. His team made it through the first round, and today it got narrowed down. First game they won. The second game they lost. Each game was a nail biter and by the time it was all said and done, their second game loss, knocked them out of the championship. Faces were long and disappointed. They have no idea how easy they have it. I would have traded places with them in a minute if the only heartbreak I would have to suffer was a lost baseball game. Before our families parted, we had a big lunch and enjoyed each other’s company, sharing laughs and giving my nephew praise for a job well done. Every time we leave each other and say goodbye, it pulls at my heart. I feel disheartened for all the goodbyes that I have ever had to say, especially the most recent ones.

 

 

 

 

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Copyright © 2014 Carla Joelle Brown All Rights Reserved.

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The Rubys Artist Project Grants were conceived and initiated with start-up funding from the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation and are a program of the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance.

 

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