|three thousand miles away
Author: charybdis-spawn PM
baseball and music and addiction and life.Rated: Fiction T - English - Family/Hurt/Comfort - Words: 1,518 - Favs: 1 - Published: 01-08-13 - Status: Complete - id: 3090305
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
and that the oakland coliseum (yeah yeah, it's network associates, but corporate names on ballparks have never been close to right, which is why it's still comiskey and the ballpark at arlington as far as you're concerned, and goddamn anyone who's got a problem with that) always plays the same music before the game starts, when you get there early to watch batting practice, scrounging for autographs and leaning over the rail by the dugout to watch your boy zito warming up, saying, "if you can throw the change-up like that against these punks, babe, we're gonna have a good night."
it's the counting crows, 'mr. jones,' which is kind of a weird choice, and ritchie valens singing 'la bamba,' and james brown like he's going out of style, though of course james brown will never be out of style. and around the fifth or sixth, when they play outkast's 'the way you move,' and the crowd hollering out, "byrnes, baby, byrnes," when eric with his ridiculous curly blonde hair steps up to 'disco inferno.'
so that when you hear these songs now, you're right back there, your favorite place in the world, that ugly old stadium with its miles of foul ground and its long gray concrete concourses. you can see the flags circling the outside emblazoned with the championship teams and the division titles and the mvps and the cy young award winners (there's your boy!) and the american league record twenty game win streak that is still the greatest baseball moment you can remember, better than the giants winning the pennant, better than your favorite badass/cowboy/asshole second baseman hitting two dingers in a world series rout, better than the game 1 walk-off bunt that your brother called you at four in the morning london time to relate in ecstatic detail.
like when you hear journey's 'lights,' the most perfect san francisco song, your homesick song, that both the oakland a's and the san francisco giants used to play when they shut off the stadium floods before a fireworks show (now just the giants stick with tradition), and you're suddenly seven years old again at candlestick park, wrapped up in afghans and winter gloves in august, wool-capped, and your parents are singing along to the old classic in the moments before the explosions rip the fogged night apart, you're seven years old, cold and colored by orange and black facepaint, and maybe that's the place you're trying to find again.
you keep hearkening back, that kid who lives in your dorm and holds himself the same way as your dead best friend, hip shot out, a tall lazy boy, indie-rocker with dyed-black hair and a plug in his earlobe. that other kid who's always smoking in front of the student union, who's got your best friend's nose, another guy who's got his long-fingered hands.
you see bits of california in this east coast city, where everyone seems to come from somewhere else, complicated accents, the lost r's of new englanders, the rounded vowels of southerners, frozen in the british autumn, and you wonder if anyone is ever born in new york, or if they all just find their way here, like you have. you see san francisco and london, and everywhere else, too, everywhere.
that sprawling meccanic truck stop on the outskirts of omaha, when you were driving across the country for the second time, which you rolled into at two in the morning, stumbling down the wickedly pale fluorescent aisles, looking for razor blades and a plastic straw.
the welsh road you walked down with two of the coolest guys you've ever known, smoking a spliff and making friends with a stray dog that wouldn't leave you alone, the brittle northern wind tearing against you and you're trying to light a cigarette, shielding their bodies around you, six hands cupped around the whickering flame.
the minor league ballpark in florida, before tampa bay had a baseball team, where you spent months of your five year old summer, and the paradise hills visible on the horizon from your high school's field, metallically cold november mornings standing ankle-deep in the wet grass during p.e., so exhausted you almost can't breathe and wishing more than anything that you could be anywhere but here.
the great wall of china, your older brother standing cut out against the red sky, his eyes tracing across mongolia, and your hands on the ancient stone, ashy dust in your mouth.
the flophouse on the bowery across the street from cbgb's where you spent a runaway five-day weekend two weeks after september 11th, seventeen years old and sneaking into a bar to hang out with isaac brock, the leader-singer of modest mouse, watching smoke-dirtied school buses full of rescue workers funnel down towards the empty place in the sky at the tip of the island, the quiet streets at three in the morning, an american flag whipping behind.
your life's always been circular and now maybe it is a little bit more.
you fifteen years old and not turning down anything that was offered; you sixteen years old in the southern california summer, the best writer at the best school for arts in the state; you nineteen years old and walking around the national mall at five in the morning in the middle of the worst blizzard of the decade.
you in california, you in washington d.c., you in london, some things holding constant, like this deeply-ingrained love of baseball, and the famous words you can recite by heart, and the music of the grateful dead and bruce springsteen and the beatles that you can't remember ever not knowing, your brothers who you would lie down in traffic for, your friends who are only alive because you insisted that they wouldn't die, your friends who have died, your ability to fix things, your potential for destruction, some things are the same and you hold onto baseball when nothing makes sense, because you saw the hand of god, you know the truth of this game.
it's washington d.c. and the wind is punishing, the tail-end of the hurricanes finally struggling up the coast, and you watch the red sox and the yankees, and you watch the cubs and you watch the astros because it doesn't matter if no one else expected the cards to be this far ahead, you called it in may. you watch your teams play every night even though it means being up till one o'clock in the morning at least, and your roommates don't think you ever sleep.
you don't think about the bad stuff and you sit on the steps of the church to smoke cigarettes and you've got to get a job, and you dream about coming home for thanksgiving, for christmas, going to phoenix for spring training. you write about ballplayers falling in love because, among other reasons, it's an easy way to be obsessive, allows you to learn more about each of your boys than you'd ever know otherwise, so that when your dad asks what's zito's record since the break, you don't need to think about it, when your brother asks how eric chavez did his first year in the bigs, you can go off on long tangents about how he found god in the minors and was touched as a golden boy before he was twenty years old, when your friend asks if marco scutaro's from mexico like durazo, you can tell her with assurance, no, no, half-spanish and half-italian, but born and raised in venezuela, how'd you like that?
you miss the view of the historic city's skyline out your east london window, and you miss double-play wednesdays at the coliseum, and you miss driving around on your lunch break listening to king and korach call the a's game, you miss jon miller and kruk and kuip and how you lose the car radio reception in the fog going over black mountain on your way to the city.
you'll write because you always write, and you'll follow baseball because there's been no summer in your life in which you didn't, and you'll stop chewing your nails (though zito hasn't) because your hands hurt too bad, and you'll be three thousand miles away from the only place you want to be for one more year, but once you get back, man, you're never leaving again.
here is this random wandering train of thought dealie that i wrote when in a melancholic and philosophic mood many a year ago, which is all solid true and therefore a stretch for me. unearthed it spring-cleaning, and decided to type it up. reviews are love.