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Memoir which is better than Alec's
“Are we there yet?” I swear that my cousin and I repeated this phrase 50 times on the short 15-minute trip to the depressingly dark end-of-the-line train station. “How about now? Now? Now? Are we there now?” If I were my mother and Uncle I probably wouldn’t have thought twice about heaving the two obnoxious 5 and 9 year olds out of those shiny silver windows. But somehow, we all arrived at the gloomy station alive and (In Mom and Uncle Scott’s case) surprisingly high spirited. Little did I know that in 24 hours I’d be on the verge of puking from grief.
Although I don’t remember most of the ride, I do recall getting off the subway and realizing a homeless person was sitting right in front of me. I hadn’t ever seen someone in this kind of shape before and as a result it was a little distressing. He was dressed in tattered rags, blackened with grease and grime from never being washed. On one knee, he balanced a big banjo whose strings he was constantly plucking at. The instrument’s white color looked alien compared to the skin and cloths of this dark man. The other knee was holding down an the brim of an amazingly clean blue sailor’s hat that contained less money than I most likely had in my piggy bank. I quickly pulled out a penny and casually tossed it into the cap. He nodded his head in recognition and continued playing.
We passed this scary phenomenon and continued on, until what little light remained was stolen from us by the shadow of the Green Monster. I can vividly recall wondering how anyone could hit a tiny little baseball over a huge construction like this looming green wall in front of me.
Once inside the park we mazed our way through what felt like (and probably were) hundreds upon hundreds of exited fans until finally we found our gate. At the top of the shining silver stairs, the lights on the field temporally blinded me. Once my vision regained I realized how enormous the stadium really was. Almost 500 feet away I could barely make out home plate, where what looked like little stick people stood in two lines on either side of the plate with their hats held to their chests listening to a terribly sung Star Spangled Banner. I’m pretty sure I heard a passing cotton candy vendor mutter something about disgraceful singing but never had the chance to ask about it, because we had started off again. I was still taking in the amazing rows and rows of seats all around me when finally after a few minutes of careful searching, (and learning some new words from my uncle that I was told never to repeat) we found our seats.
As a five-year-old my attention span was about equally sized as that of a tomato. And because of this after the 1st inning I was more than slightly agitated. So to remedy this problem I decided that I was suddenly thatched of thirst. “Mom can I get something to drink? I’m really thirsty.”
“Ok. I’ll take you to the concession stands.” my mom wearily replied, probably imagining an extremely long and food-break filled night. Her brother -my uncle- must have sensed this and quickly added in “No it’s okay, I’ll take both the boys. I think Alex has use the bathroom anyway.”
“Oh, thank you SO much”. Of course Mom wasn’t going to turn down a chance to avoid the viscously thick crowds now swarming like flies to sugar water beneath our feet.
About 5 minutes later after waiting in line for what was probably 60 seconds, but felt like forever, the verbally battered teenage cashier asked what we wanted. Simultaneously we both belted out “Two big gulp root beers please.”
“All right then. I suppose that’s that.” my uncle remarked unsuccessfully trying not to smile at our answer. The clerk pulled out two cups big enough to comfortably house a family of mice, and proceeded to fill them to the brim with the ice-cold foamy root beer. I can distinctly remember being handed this american monstrosity of a mug, and thinking that I could maybe drink an eighth of the soda that was now held firmly in my grip. Of course, the next time I would have a soda my hands would be shaking so much from anticipation that I would barely be able to hold the cup.
One other of the few 8-year old things I can recall is that during the the 7th inning stretch, my 9-year-old cousin Alex and I got extremely bored. And one way or another we made up this game, which consisted of seeing who could throw a popcorn farthest. But just as our game was getting exiting, a big fat man sat down in front of us. I still don’t know what compelled him to show up in the 7th inning, but he did and blocked our shooting range. But being the devious little children we were, a new game was made up: See how many coronals could be thrown over this man before he noticed. But funnily enough, he was so engrossed in his 3 hotdogs he never realized what we were doing!
By the time the time the 9th inning came rolling around, I was very much asleep in my seat. I was awakened suddenly by the announcer shouting “Now at the plate... number 34, David Ortiz!” Another at bat. Big whoop, I silently thought. But actually that’s exactly how it happened. First pitch sailed clean over the Monster and kept on going, far off into the night. Fireworks exploded all around us and the field was illuminated just in time to reveal the winning run stomping home-plate. The perfect ending to a sort-of-boring, but still perfect night.
Getting back to Carlyle is very foggy and I really can’t remember all that much of it. I do know that while we were waiting for the “Big Purple Striped Train” to carry us back to the car the homeless man we had seen earlier had moved across the track and was hiding from the wind beneath what was left of a big plastic tarp. I felt really bad for him. I mean what kind of life is that? I like to think that I learn from what I see, and try to remember examples of how NOT to turn out. But surprisingly enough, I didn’t think about him ever again, that is, until I wrote this. But with I was soon to find out had been happening, you can’t honestly blame me.
I woke up I The next morning I hurried downstairs to what I expected to be a cheery morning breakfast. Instead I found what could have been a funeral parade assembly sitting at the long oak breakfast table. Immediately I knew something was off. My Mom was talking on the phone, and with every minute her face was turning whiter.
“Quadruple bypass... Oh thank goodness he’s still alive. Yes of course we’ll come right now. Okay, okay. Goodbye.” She hung up the phone silently. It took her a while to compose herself enough to tell me the news. “I have some bad news.” she said at last. “Your Dad has had a big heart attack. He’s okay, but in the hospital.” Suddenly time stopped. My mind froze like water in the arctic. Dad? Who, my dad? No there must be some mistake. Dad couldn’t be in the Hospital I saw him just yesterday morning. No, no this can’t be right. While I was having the best time of my life my father was inches from death, no that wouldn’t be fair. No, please no.
But I was the one that was wrong. In less than two hours I was sitting on my own couch with my brother waiting for my Mom to get back from the Hospital. How could this happen? How could he possibly be in the Hospital? I thought desperately trying to convince myself this was a joke. But it finally sunk in: nobody’s joking. He had a heart attack and is in the Hospital. And I sunk down n my chair waited for what felt like years until finally we heard the creak of the door handle and the rush of cold September air come through the door.
By this time I could barley contain myself. He almost died! This made it even more shocking when I realized that Mom was smiling! Had I been older I most likely would have thought her to be in shock or some other form of trauma. But that wasn’t the case. Slowly we made our way back to the living room to where my brother sat just as rigid as ever in his tiny chair. Finally I couldn’t stand it anymore “Uh Mom why are you smiling?” I questioned her.
“He is going to make it.” she whispered. “He’ll be okay. Full recovery expected.”
All of these memories come flooding back to me whenever I see a Major League Baseball game, along with a lesson that was learned that hard way: Don’t ever assume that you’ll always feel like your on top of the world. Because there’s no way it’s going to let you feel that way for long. But Also to enjoy what time you have that can be called “Perfect.”