Saturday, April 25, 2009

Baseball as I Grieve, Part Two

Baseball as I Grieve, the original

I still look to baseball to comfort me.

It's a comfort, an escape, whatever you want to call it, but whatever it is, it's something I can grasp, something I can hold onto, something that I can at least pretend to understand.

There is something about the every day, something about the regularity of the sport, that draws me in, that tells me, "hey, get on with your life."

So what if I've been told that I should not pursue a PhD because my mode of work is incompatible with graduate school and that I have not progressed enough?

So what if I hear these words the very first day I've returned to campus after my aunt's funeral?

So what if I am physically and emotionally exhausted?

There's still baseball...right?

On Thursday, there is no Yankee baseball. It's one of the few days of the year that's a scheduled off day, and the timing of it rankles: I need baseball today almost now more than ever.

There was plenty of Yankee baseball on Wednesday-fourteen innings of it-and I know the off day is sorely needed for the bullpen, but I need baseball today.

I want to do nothing the rest of the day but curl up in a ball and cry.

There's plenty of crying in baseball, right? Why does real life have to be any different?

I find myself reading the Tanakh again, and this time getting a bit turned off. This is the word of G-d? It's full of gratuitous violence, and killing for the sake of killing, which, while normally not something that bothers me, here is not what I want to read.

I am a history student and for once I'd like to stop thinking about death.

Friday is the first day I smile, really smile, since my mother's phone call last week.

I have one class Friday, instead of the usual two.

It's a philosophy class and nine times out of ten the material sails over my head, and I struggle just to keep up with my notes.

Today, however, it's different.

For whatever reason, maybe simply that I'm amped up because it's Sox and Yankees this weekend and the adrenaline is already flowing, I follow the entire lecture and contribute to the discussion. My questions aren't ignored, but, instead, I am told they are good ones, and perhaps the first time all semester I actually feel as though I belong in the class.

After what I had been told on Thursday, Friday, today, is the perfect remedy.

Even baseball seems to play along for much of Friday night.

Sure, Joba's a bit wild and walking on egg shells, but four double plays in five innings means there's no way we can lose this game...right?

Then I remember: 4-2 games with Mariano Rivera on the mound at Fenway have not always ended well in the past. 2004 still lingers like an old concussion that never quite went away.

Blown saves happen, as they do on this night, and tonight it hurts. It's the first day I've smiled, really smiled, in over a week, and all that earlier contentment disappears with one bad pitch.

Perhaps I'm too attached to this game.

Saturday summer comes to the Bronx.

By noon it's 75 degrees outside, with a bright sun, and all I want to do is stop time so I can bottle this weather forever. I want nothing more than to sit outside and enjoy it, but my building has no porches, and I, with skin as sensitive as a (natural) redhead's, am out of sunblock.

The weather's fitting.

Down in Maryland, today, there's a memorial service, for my aunt's friends and family that couldn't make it up to New Jersey for the funeral.

Aunt Paula was so vibrant and full of life than any other weather besides that which must have been crafted by the Greek g-ds themselves, would have just not worked.

I wish I was there, but it simply wasn't doable, in terms of time and transportation.

I send Facebook well wishes to my cousin, though it's not quite the same as actually being there.

The game Saturday induces a barrage of emotions.

There's contentment and happiness as the Yankees stake out to a 6-0 lead, then despair at a 6-6 tie, anger at 8-6, cooling off at 8-8...on and on it goes, until, at last it reaches a stage where I am simply blank.

The game itself is a catharsis.

I should be angry, furious, horribly upset at the loss, but I am not.

I am blank.



Every inch of my body hurts, as though I have just been standing out on the baseball diamond for nine innings.

Baseball is supposed to be my comfort, right? So why do I feel like this? Not comfortable at all?

Then I realize something that I think I've already known: The comfort of baseball is that they play on. Tomorrow is as though today never happened. They start again, and no one here can say for certainty that they know how it will end.

It's the same with life. You live on. No one knows what will happen next, but still, you live.

You live, you play.

You play, you live.

And that is comfort.