Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Good Times Never Seemed So Good

I was perhaps halfway through my bike ride home when I started sobbing.  It was my iPod's fault really.  It had the brilliant idea to choose, out of all 500 songs on my iPod, "Sweet Caroline", which was probably the straw that broke the camel's back.  I don't think I can pin point an exact feeling behind the sobbing.  In fact, to be honest, I was probably crying more for a lack of feeling.  The Red Sox are in town starting today, playing the Giants.  And no matter how I've tried, I couldn't bring myself to care.

Back in the day I would have moved heaven and earth to go to a Red Sox Game.  Nothing could have stopped me.  No battle too great, no obstacle too tall.  I would have slain any giant for a prized ticket to the happiest event on earth.  But as I sat at the side of the road, I ran through the various excuses I had given myself over the past weeks:  "I have no one to go with!"  Rubbish.  That's as false an excuse as I could ever give myself.  I hate going to games with people.  All they want to do is talk and spoil the beauty of baseball.  "San Francisco is too scary."  I'll admit, I don't like the city, there is a bit of validity to this excuse.  But really, go re-read the first 4 sentences of this paragraph.  Again, rubbish.  "It will hurt too much."  This most likely is true.  It would hurt.  I am a traitor to my cause, and I know every inch of it.  It would be like returning to the crime scene, and every ounce of evidence calling out my guilt.  This little sob fest on the side of the road would be nothing compared to the tears of remorse and shame that I would cry at that baseball stadium if I were there.  But in the great words of Jon Foreman (courtesy of my iPod, who seemed to think the theme of my bike ride home was 'induce depression') "Every lament is a love song".  My tears of pain would only be proof of my love, though once betrayed, forever there.  No, that excuse wasn't the real reason either.

I think my biggest fear was that I would be at the game, and I would feel nothing at all.  That I would find I am too far gone, and there is no redemption left available for me.  I have already squandered any opportunity I had left, I missed my turning point.  Now there is nothing.  I would see the green, and it wouldn't matter.  I would hear the crack of the bat, and my heart wouldn't start racing.  If I were to go to that field and find myself empty, find that my soul had finally deserted me because I spent years ignoring it, I'm not sure I would be able to go on.  Baseball was too much a part of me.  As another song my iPod felt the need to play stated, it is "written in the scars of my heart".  If baseball is taken away from me, there is not enough left.

I have been gone too long, and I cannot seem to find the way back.  "It's like forgetting the words to your favorite song.  You can't believe it, you were always singing along.  It was so easy, and the words so sweet.  You can't remember, you try to feel the beat...." (Regina Spektor.  What can I say, my iPod was on a roll today).  No one I knew is there anymore.  It is all strange names, strange faces.  I don't relate to the dramas of the current season, the fact that teams that were once laughing stocks are now lethal threats, the excitement of certain players or teams doing certain exciting things.  The baseball joys of my innocent youth is gone, and I have grown too tainted, too cynical, too wary.  There is no "maybe next year", hope of spring, suspense of October.  Baseball was my family, my best friends, my teacher, my ally, colleague.  I have spent the past few years of my life slowing closing more and more people out of my life, realizing the pain that comes with relationships and building fences to prevent future damage.  The relationships of baseball seemed to have been lost in that as well.

And yet.

I was packing my suitcases for England yesterday.  I packed my Red Sox blanket, but obviously one needs a blanket in a cold country.  I packed my Red Sox hat, but that's because hats are handy, and you should always have one just in case.  I packed a baseball.  I don't know why.  I'll never use it.  But there it is, in my suitcase.  In the midst of my packing and unpacking and re-organizing, trying to fit in everything I need to take and keep my bags underweight, that item never seems to leave the suitcase.  Forgive me baseball, I didn't know what I was doing.  I didn't know the pain my absence would cause, and the pain from finding it impossible to return.  I suppose when it really comes down to it, I can't survive without baseball in my life. So what have I been doing these past few years?  And how will I continue, knowing the gates are closed on me now?

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