I've been in the bay area for the past week and change, and I'm leaving tomorrow. I make it a point not to give into the temptation to change the time zone on my computer unless I move permanently somewhere, so my clock says "3.01am" right now; this is the time my body is supposed to think it is I guess. Last week's jetlag is a distant memory now so I'm wide awake, yet again. So maybe I can blog myself to sleep tonight.
I met an amazing pool player at the Jury Room in Santa Cruz earlier. He was very drunk but still somehow managed to mop the floor with me and my two companions, as well as the guy who played before us. He'd lost his father, age 85, to pancreatic cancer recently. I related, since I lost mine five years ago to colon cancer (five years exactly this past cinco de mayo). I felt for him, since there's no reason to believe that losing a parent when you're 60 should be that much easier than losing one when you're 20. Cancer, truly, has earned its place on my shit list.
I bring this up not just because of this chance meeting, but because earlier in the week I attended my first baseball game ever without my dad. I've never been into sports really, and baseball particularly is an acquired taste I think, but I have the fondest memories of those games we'd attended together. One in particular stands out. It was my dad's night for custody of me—my parents having been divorced since I was in 4th grade or so—and he was very, very late picking me up from school. I was in 8th grade and already in a shitty mood just existing at that point, so my dad's tardiness wasn't a welcome addition to the scene. I was pretty pissed, sitting around outside my middle school which, by the way, was in the absolute middle of nowhere.
Anyways my dad rolls up and asks if I want to go see a ball game in Atlanta. A new team had recently been created, the Arizona Diamondbacks, and they were playing against the Braves at Turner Field. The game itself wasn't memorable enough to stick in my mind but for one embarrassing moment. The Diamondbacks, as I said, were still a new team, and they lacked cohesion still. They didn't have that vital unspoken coordination, when a pop fly ball is headed for the empty space between two outfielders and the shortstop, to instantly decide who should catch it. Apparently, they also had great focus and were keeping their eyes on the ball only, because all three players collided, got beaned with the ball, and let an easy out turn into a double base hit as they fell over, dusted themselves off, then threw the ball back infield. In my extremely limited experience of the sport, it was the most hilarious baseball moment I have ever witnessed to this day.
I remember my evil bitch of a stepmom saying that my dad watched sports so he'd have something to talk about with people, because he was so great at relating to people unlike him, but that was pure horseshit. My dad loved baseball enough to have books on the topic, enough to have signed photographs of a pre-steroids Roger Clemens and a pretty solid collection of baseball cards. He loved baseball enough to yell at me when I wasn't paying enough attention at games. My dad didn't bother to instill in me love for any sport except baseball.
I can't help but imagine that baseball is a very different thing than it was when he was a wee lad. Turner Field's construction was really the turning point for the Braves where they became just the Yankees of the South, overpaid babies who weren't even from Georgia anyway. So what's the point? The Cubs aren't all from Chicago, you know. The very idea that an entire baseball franchise could transplant to another city is just antithetical to the entire purpose of the game, and, furthermore, the purpose behind being a fan. If the Cubs moved to another city could anyone in Chicago still be a fan? Or would we all have to become (god forbid!!!) Sox fans?
I'm too rational about these things though, because I'm not a sports fan anyway. I can relate to a more basic love of the game like my dad had, though, because I'm really not that dissimilar to him at all (I see him every time I look in the mirror).
Every cinco de mayo I feel like I should write something, say something, do something to remember him, but I remember him all the time, in little conversations and little anecdotes like that one, memories I have always in my back pocket ready for easy reference. It's not that simple though. You can't just schedule all your grief for two days a year (the other: 8 July, his birthday). I have to wait for a moment I can bring it all back and make it all make sense, like the first baseball game I've been to without him.
I realized that, but I didn't feel sad at the game at all. Rather, I just had a great time with my friends, drinking beer, smoking really excellent ganja, eating cheap hot dogs, drinking more beer, shooting the proverbial shit, making fun of Coale 'cause the Royals were getting shellacked something fierce by the A's, and thinking to myself that I understand what my father dug so much about baseball. There really is nothing like it, and no other sport compares. So just like ever I hope my father would be proud of me and what I'm doing. At the very least I think he'd be happy I can still enjoy a ball game without him, and even happier that I was thinking of him in the process.
Sleep tight, space cadets.