- Ted & Debbie (Photographers)
I’m up early to catch a flight to Miami. I can’t tell you how many worn Doug fir steps there are as I walk upstairs. In the dark my barefooted toes grasp and cradle their well-rounded nose like I’m hanging 5. The upstairs where the boys sleep is a mess. It reminds me a plane crash site littered with clothing, books, Legos and electronic debris. There’s more memory, data and power in their bedroom to rival the early Apollo program.
The air is heavy with sleep. I hug and kiss each of my boys and whisper I love you and listen to mom into their ears. I get to Henry who’s 14 going on 15 and sleeps in our old king size bed. It’s actually Sam’s bed but he’s away at college. I go to my old side of the bed and stretch over to where Henry is sleeping. He’s sweating while I give him a hug and we give each other a weird high-five knuckle handshake. I tell him not to worry about school and that everything will be okay.
I think of myself at 14, learning how to surf, listening to music that I’m still listening to today and the Miami Dolphins.
I’m sitting in the new Marlin Park on the former site of the Orange Bowl watching 2 teams I care nothing about but loving the sport. I think about my team, The Dodgers, about wins and loses – it doesn’t really matter. I remember sitting in this very place during a Monday Night Football game Uncle Bob took me to. We parked on the lawn in front of someone’s house. – The Dolphins playing the Benagals or the Bears. A time warp hits me like this Mojito I just slurped down like an Icee from the 7-11 on Oakland Park Blvd.
On the plane I’m listening to Dylan, blending the spirit and the real world together like nobody else can ever do.
Henry who is just 14 but looks a lot older. I try to catch myself using the word “just”- it diminishes it keeps it small but really he’s just 14. May You Stay Forever Young.
Dinner is over. There’s confusion about clearing the table, doing the dishes, taking out the trash, covering the fish so the raccoons don’t eat them, doing the counters and sweeping the floors. The arguing takes more time then the actual chores. Simon asks Debbie, “when you die can I have your jewelry?” He wants to keep them in a box to remember her by. There’s was something so sweet, honest but brutal in his question.
Silently, Sam walks in the front door. He’s been playing tennis and he smells. His spring break from Grinnell is almost over. His visits have been almost ghostlike, appearing and disappearing at times in Jacob Marley fashion as he jingles my Volvo keys and puts them on top of the green cabinet. I’m envious of his recent hauntings of coffee shops, record stores and restaurants. I wasn’t prepared for how much I was going to miss Sam when he went off to college and having him back for this break sometimes makes me stop and think to myself “are you really here?” There’s a sense of dread as the day he has to go back to college approaches.
On the way to the airport, we talk about surfing baseball and coffee. I ask him if the front breaks were squeaking when he drove the car yesterday. He says, “no, not really.” It’s small talk but really part of the bigger picture. His leaving creates an imbalance and emptiness inside of me that’s hard to pinpoint. It’s like losing a limb but seeing that limb hanging out of the window of a car going by in the opposite direction on the freeway.
The duldrumic rumblings of summer begins with rocketry experiments. I give thanks that protective eyewear is issued without my advice.
Part 2 of the Baseball season resumed yesterday. June Gloom has extended into July. When the sun pokes through it’s been late in the afternoon and only for a short dose. The Early Girl and Heirloom tomatoes I planted early are feeling the effects of the lack of sun as they stay small and green. I’ve been practicing yoga on our green basketball court. Starting slow, clad in blue jeans or corduroys I see a flea hop across my mat while in cobra pose. I let it go for now as I silently run through a future gas assault during my next sun salutation.
Stone fruits from friends trees and guerilla black berries picked from our alley during a recycling run occupy bowls on the tables at our house. Silhouetted recyclers equipped with hand wrought poking sticks look like harpooners of old in the bows of whale boats rummaging for bottles and cans in large black and blue bins.
Backwater alleys lined with muscle cars and pick up trucks defy the NO PARKING signs while my crew of boys balance on overturned trash cans and tippy toes manuever their way in between thorned berry bushes like cartoon bears.
It’s only the end of January. Our kids’ baseball gloves are laying around the yard untouched since the World Series. The Dodgers are for sale for a healthy 1 billion dollars. Prince Fielder just signed with the Tigers. I’m raking the leaves and I find a baseball in the yard. I pick it up. It’s water logged and it smells like oregano and wild mint. I grip the ball prepared to throw a 2 seam curve ball and do the math in my head. Only 3 months till Opening Day.
It’s dark when we get up in the morning. The thought of surfing makes me want to dive back under the covers. When the sun does come up it’s angle is low and edgy. Splintery slivers of warm light cut and show things in a secret shadowy way. When the stadium lights finally do take effect, they reveal a baseball season that has been stretched to it’s utmost end…a Game 7.