Have you ever heard of Grindr? It’s this… nevermind.
I’m sure that if we were in Our Ballpark, you would pester me to explain about why I’m suddenly asking about Grindr. Here’s where I am instead of Our Ballpark: not in real life, nor do I even have the strength to take shelter in my imagined baseball stadium, but instead I am drifting in a fog simultaneously vaporous and crushing. It is a ghostly weight that for the past week has left me feeling shackled within an existential purgatory.
There are moments of liberation. Talking to RQ guy comes first to mind. I think this might be a crush, Linc. I think that I have a legitimate crush. I’m a 31-year old with a crush! How ridiculous is that? It’s just a crush, though. RQ guy is the teacher whose class everyone in high school wants to take because he’s so hot; in this case, I’d be one of the admirers in his class whose admiration is confined by time, space, and moral fortitude to just the doodles of his name in my notebook.
We have taken our correspondence from Facebook to text message. Our inaugural thread was about the persistence of urine smell on public transit. I could just imagine him riding around on… what do they call it in Chicago? The L?
At some point in the conversation, he mentioned that he used Grindr. It’s stupid for me to be stuck on that, I know. I might be old-fashioned, even a little bit naïve, but I don’t judge about people’s sex lives. (Sometimes I admire them.) But long before RQ guy came into the picture, the notion of Grindr had always bothered me. There is something about it that seems troubling to me beyond the comparatively pleasant notion of the booty call.
Anyway, this happened not too long before I started writing this never-to-be-sent:
RQ guy: ok it’s like 3 in the morning over here. i’m going to bed.
Me: cool, i’ll go with you
RQ guy: sure I am just a hop skip and a jump away
Me: wow you are corny
He messaged again that he was going to bed for real, and I smiled — no, dummy, not because I was thinking immature thoughts about him being in bed. (Well, maybe.) I smiled because talking to him is so pleasant. There’s no attachment or expectation beyond the next line of text that will keep the conversation going. Sometimes one person tries to make the other person laugh. Sometimes one person tries to enlighten the other by sharing a topical article or bringing up an opinion about the world. And that’s all there is, and it’s amazing.
Speaking of which, RQ guy hasn’t been the only source of illuminating correspondence in my life. My ex-pat buddy Inez dropped me a thoughtful note in response to all the heavy thinking I’ve been doing about the government shutdown. She has been living in Germany for… I don’t even remember the number of years anymore. It’s been a long time. She’s also Ma’s age and sometimes she likes to point that out:
I certainly remember a Republican party that wasn’t always hell bent on acting like petulant children; in other words, I remember civil political discourse, and there is nothing like that coming from a core group in that party. As for Obama, I think the consensus building has gone too far. On the other hand, this has been building since Reagan, and it’s not going to improve until Americans get as angry about this and they do about CBS pre-empting Breaking Bad for a news flash, or Ben Affleck being signed to play Batman.
If nothing else, my correspondence with RQ guy has given my girlfriends something to talk about.
"You have to find someone like this in San Francisco," Selma had said, wide-eyed, while she perused one of my more salacious exchanges with him.
"You have a lot of catching up to do," was Spencer’s reaction when she read his response to my admission. For added effect, she nudged me with her elbow and quipped: “Am I right?”
"I think I’ve heard of Grindr," Gemini had said, but her furrowing eyebrows betrayed her. "Maybe not. Do I want to know?"
But for the most part, this whole week has been an existential nightmare. I worry daily about Ma. And seemingly every hour, the Republicans come up with something infuriatingly offensive to say about the nation to which they claim pure allegiance.
I’ll be honest with you, Linc. I may have spent all of my young adult and adult lives talking about politics as if I know politics but most of it was grandstanding in the way that everyone is a movie critic when they all say a movie has bad acting or a bad script but are unable to provide an adequate explanation when confronted with the question of how. But since Barack Obama ran for president, I have become enamored with politics as more than just a dilettante. For example, I’ve come to realize why so many elected leaders started out as lawyers. When you’re a lawyer, with every case you have to constantly do research about issues and topics to which you may have never even given a single thought. When RQ guy was complaining to me about the recently resolved helium debate, for example, not only did I think to myself about how I was totally unaware that there was a helium shortage (much less a federal budget for helium) but I also thought about how it must have required a lot of learning and catching up for many politicians who had to deal with that.
This week has made me take a hard look at the choices I’ve been making the last few years. There are plentiful signs that I am being nudged toward an education and career in policy, some sort of law, maybe even politics — or theology, religion, some sort of counseling. They are all connected: from my marketing gig in 2011 at a compliance firm, to my nascent admiration for human resources, which has produced an unexpected curiosity in law. Even my church, which I became involved with just shortly before that marketing gig, has produced a revelatory connection. I am just learning, for example, that Presbyterian governance is closely modeled after the structure of U.S. government. I grew up Catholic, Linc. When I came to San Francisco, I just wanted to find a church where I could fit in and be myself, and unfortunately that did not lead to another Catholic church like the one in which I grew up. I never said to myself in ambition, “Hey I want to try being Presbyterian someday.” It just… happened.
So here I am, at the end of a tough week, and my nation isn’t making it any easier. I have gotten angry many times this week and, even more times than being angry, I have been depressed — yet, conversely, rather than sinking into defeat I am bracing myself to tough it out. I would even venture to say that this is a defining week for me, Linc. The people in Washington DC right now are very bad people. I don’t know if my career will ever ascend so far that I could hope to replace them — there are scores of folks far younger than I am who already have a head start — but I’m motivated more than ever to try. To contribute to a national dialogue. To make a difference.
How is the re-signing coming along? Some people say that you might make a decision pretty soon. But by your own admission, you want to take your time, and you may even wait until we’re deep into the holidays. I’m certainly curious. Like every other fan, I would miss you if you left town. But hopefully throughout four years of baseball fandom, I have stood out, somehow, in a way flattering to you.
Unfortunately, I have never thought less about you than I have in this frustrating and complex week.
On my bed is a copy of the children’s book Carl’s Sleepy Afternoon. It seems appropriate that my roommate, Clara, placed the book at my side while I was dozing, yes, earlier this afternoon.
Three years ago, I rescued the book when I was doing what is known in bookselling as pulling — the routinely scheduled process of pulling aged, underselling inventory from the shelves. That summer, I’d worked at a bookstore in the south peninsula of the Bay Area, a longstanding nexus of San Francisco Giants fandom. (It’s no wonder the team owners are so territorial about their minor league interests.) It was my first bookstore job, and as you might expect, it paid next to nothing; in fact, that’s nearly what I made, as I was earning the minimum wage of the county in which I worked, not the minimum wage of San Francisco, which was where I lived and was an hour’s commute away from work. The train rides alone ate up my paycheck. Most booksellers will tell you that they got into their line of work for passion; hardly anyone will mention money, which is so hard-fought that as a source of pride, it is dwarfed by an all-consuming love of books and imparting that love on anyone who walks through the doors of their store.
I couldn’t bear to send Carl’s Sleepy Afternoon back to the publisher. I had known from the moment I was called in for an interview that the job would be on the level of an internship, something I was doing for the experience. You would be surprised at how competitive bookselling jobs can be, not just because the industry is changing — in 2010, its status to me did not feel as tenuous as it does these days — but because in terms of retail, they are not really meant to be survival jobs. When you interview for most retail positions, you are expected to wax philosophical about what makes that particular company your top choice. You never reveal that you just need a job; you have to convey that you actually really want to work there. With a bookstore, you have to actually really want to work there. Although education requirements are modest — most bookstore positions require nothing beyond a high school diploma — passion with respect to knowledge is immeasurable. What I didn’t see in my paycheck (and, by extension, my bank account), instead I saw all around me whenever I was at work: I was so happy just to be there. Even if I was doing something as menial as dusting the shelves, or pulling, the work was something enviable in a modern human existence of compulsory employment: a job that I loved doing. What a radical notion.
In place of generous salaries, booksellers are often treated to generous perks; later on in my bookselling career, as an events planner, I got to sample all sorts of catered goodies, and authors can be showy when they are imparting tokens of their gratitude after an especially rousing event. Generous discounts are also fairly common with bookstore jobs, and I used mine to rescue Carl’s Sleepy Afternoon, which now kept me company during my own afternoon nap. The book had accumulated a thin layer of dust the way treasured but overlooked books tend to do, and it was Clara who had done the rescuing this time around when she spotted it sticking out of the communal bookshelf of our living room. She pulled and flipped through it, asking me where it came from, but I didn’t tell her about how rescuing the book had been one of the highlights of my first bookselling job. It seemed too long a story to tell when I was so sleepy.
Clara is part of an important segment of my life that in that moment intersected with my nap. I’d known Clara since 2000, when I first arrived in town to pursue Creative Writing at San Francisco State. (That first bookselling job had come ten years later, the same year that the Giants won their historic World Series.) We’d been friends for thirteen years, which meant that she was one of the first people I ever befriended here and continued to be friends with into adulthood, a sustained effort that sometimes startles me with how long it has gone on. Lying in bed earlier this afternoon, my head was bogged down in a haze that had materialized from having awoken way too early for a Saturday, and also by a merry stream of alcohol. I’d gotten up for the first day of weekly 8am math class, and afterward, I’d had just enough time to go home and change into an outfit for a wedding that I was attending.
Although I’d managed to get her to come to church for Easter, for the most part Clara has left alone that component of my life. In fact, none of my friends are especially religious. They might be startled to know the extent of my significant connection to the people at my church. What Clara has often witnessed of my involvement with church is that I leave the apartment every Sunday afternoon to attend worship, and that I also sometimes have meetings during other parts of the week. Sometimes we talk about what I do at these meetings, but I reserve most nuances judging that they are less interesting to people who are not inclined to church life; for those who are, those meetings have encompassed everything from small groups to the kinds of meetings assembled for the purpose of leadership, on which I serve as an elder. Me, a church elder! To describe the improbability of this development would require a separate posting. Needless to say, whenever it crosses my mind that it may be time to leave San Francisco after a certain number of years — and it has certainly been a recurring thought this year, the thirteenth, a meaningful number not for its unluckiness but because it was the day I was born — the next consideration that comes to mind after Clara and my other friends is the surprise that is this church community.
So I have found myself entrenched in such unexpected friendships from said church community that I had even been invited to their weddings, one of which happened last spring, and another today. It was an outdoor wedding and astonishingly not only did the typically gray San Francisco weather clear up, it generously provided both sun and warmth. The ceremony was officiated by an esteemed parish associate and followed by a raucous cocktail hour that led to an even more convivial outdoor meal spread across a set of community tables evocative of cinema: these weren’t my best friends at this wedding, but they were still good friends, with the added distinction of having been introduced into my life through shared faith, by God Himself. (Which is not to say that I don’t credit God for introducing me to Clara and the others, but the friends I’ve made from belief seem cast in some other, mystical act in the movie of human experience.)
I only describe the cocktail hour as “raucous” because the merry consumption of wine and cocktails loosened our tongues in a manner that freed us from the formality of the church functions that we’re used to. Although the ceremony was officiated by an esteemed parish associate, technically this wedding was an event outside the purview of church — today, I was hanging out with friends. As for that esteemed parish associate, she is someone with the capacity to be at once a church leader, mentor, and friend. I made myself so comfortable nursing a drink called the Bee’s Knees — some honey-based concoction that I’d never heard of until another church friend suggested it when she spotted me lingering thoughtfully at the bar — that when we were standing around in conversation, I confessed something that I up until then kept to myself mainly because it was merely an idea that had been floating around in my head without the decisive action that might have made it a legitimate revelation.
For the last half of my twenties, I had struggled with the realization that I was not taking my writing career anywhere. Although I’d dipped my toe into such endeavors as writing ad copy and overseeing social media content, my real passion — novels, and sometimes essays in the style of David Sedaris — wasn’t going anywhere. The stack of rejection letters was becoming less of an incentive to keep trying and more a reason for pause to ask the grim but necessary question: what’s next? I’ve talked so much about my church here not merely to provide background for how I found myself at a beautiful outdoor wedding today, but to convey how inspirational they’ve been in helping me answer that question. As I ended my twenties, I found myself in need of a new spiritual home that wasn’t afraid to embrace the complexities of the human experience. I had been raised Catholic and knowing next to nothing about the rest of Christendom, much less other denominations such as the Presbyterians, whose church I am now a member of. What I found myself confessing to my parish associate friend at the wedding today was my desire to someday turn all of my volunteer involvement in church into something professional — maybe, perhaps, to even attend divinity school. Such a commitment would require a bit more thinking over before I make any rash decisions, but looking back on my nearly three years with this church community — I found them not long after the 2010 World Series — the path doesn’t seem entirely unprecedented. I’ve always enjoyed helping people, and I’ve always been in love with God, even though ours has been a turbulent relationship of belief, disbelief, marriage, divorce, and then reconciliation all over again. Re-reading that sentence, I should probably clarify whether I’m talking about people or talking about God. If I did choose to make a profession out of a component of my life that has been present since childhood, then it would be because I’m talking about both.
The truth is that, for right now, I don’t know. Right now, I’m taking business classes, the furthest thing I can think of from the notion of divinity school. For those of you who have followed my never-to-be-sents — if you don’t know what those are, then perhaps it’s for the best — then you know that I have also struggled with still being single at this age. You would not be surprised to know that being at the wedding today was a slightly lonely experience for me, and that it may have contributed to my having slept with Tim Lincecum after the wedding.
I had gotten up for an 8am math class, the only section of that particular class that I could get my hands on. I have felt uncomfortable confessing that it is a very remedial math class in which I am reviewing such basic concepts as fractions and long division, so to even Mary, my best friend since the ninth grade, I have called it a statistics class. But I am in a remedial math class for many of the same reasons that I am taking business classes, and that I may one day attend divinity school: because I never thought I would, because interests and opportunities that I had excluded for whatever prejudice are suddenly, whether due to age or circumstance, more than relevant — they are vital to a growth that, seemingly without warning, is within reach.
It was very tiring to dash from an early Saturday morning class to an afternoon wedding, especially a wedding where I liberally consumed the delicious courses and spirits. The wedding also required me to generate vast quantities of extroversion, and by the time the dance floor was being primed for launch, I was so drained that I took up a friend’s offer to leave early. Back at home, I took hold of my trusty pocket radio, the one that I have always taken to ballgames, and found the Giants a comfortable lead, with my idol as the starting pitcher.
It is a very rare world indeed where one’s idol becomes one’s husband, but since 2009, I have been daydreaming of my future husband with Tim Lincecum as a figure in the interim. In 2010, I began this blog by publishing the opening chapters of a novel that starred a blatantly recognizable protagonist. I never posted the rest of the novel because I never actually finished it; the rest of this blog soon became musings of life, baseball, and experiencing them both as a searcher of both belief, as in God, and purpose, as in what I should do with the rest of my life. Even in what is considered the gay capital of the nation, dating in San Francisco is fraught with demands that I often would rather channel into my schooling or church. What has impressed me the most about Presbyterians is their emphasis on education — yes, they believe in God, and yes, they believe that Jesus died for our sins — but they endeavor to compliment that faith with worldly knowledge. In my own church, there are many who hold advanced degrees, and without the influence of their perseverance, passion, and accomplishment, the drive of which I was so possessed in youth was in very real danger of dying with age.
Exhausted from a day of math and marriage, I ended my afternoon with a radio and the ballgame in the palm of my hand. In the background, Clara was sifting through the introductory paperwork that I had received in class today, marveling at the complexity of the long division homework that I’d been assigned — I guess we all could stand to brush up on some of that stuff — but I could only answer her with sleepy murmurs. Pretty soon, neither that early morning class, nor even the wedding, really mattered as much to me as falling asleep did. My eyes shut ever tighter and my breathing slowed to the pace of somnambulance. I gave into my deepest longing, more than even attaining the mightiest degrees.
How do major league baseball players go to Paris? The period immediately following the end of the regular season is not an ideal time to go over there. The next best time to visit Paris would be in March were it not for spring training.
I just had a horrible thought. What if in reality you are like Jeff Kent? He is a very unpleasant person. Not only does he have a nasty personality, he also donated to Proposition 8 — and it makes me squirm that he set foot in our motherland.
I want, I want, I want, I want to go back to Paris so badly. I know how strange this sudden transformation must seem. In the days immediately leading to my vacation, I was glum, if not outright hostile, toward the idea of even setting foot in Europe. It wasn’t something that I needed to happen in my life as badly as everyone else seemed to want it to happen in their own lives — in fact, even now, I can say that I might have still been happy if I had never gone.
But I did go. And now I can’t — to speak in today’s hypercontemporary parlance — un-go.
So let’s go back, Linc.
Let’s go wander along the banks of the Seine, periodically kissing and embracing, just like in a movie — and then the movie ends, because the cinematic moment comes to a dull conclusion when I spend the rest of that day inside Shakespeare and Company while you gamely read nearby or wander off to do your own thinking. (In fact, there are a number of comic book shops near Shakespeare and Company!)
Of course, when I said “let’s”, “you”, and “your”, I was referring to my actual husband, wherever and whomever he may be.
The parenthetical notation about comic book shops arose from just one more interpretation that I have of your personality as reported by the media. It has been reported that you like video games and fast movies, so my interpretation is that by extension you might also like comic books. On the other hand, it has also been reported that you like The Beatles, Frank Sinatra — and remember that special you did for CSN Bay Area, the one where you showed off your new condo in Seattle? It has been a while since I watched that special and I only saw it that one time. But I remember you pointed out some art hanging on your walls, or that you liked the idea of having important art hanging on your walls, or something.
Ever since then, joining the notions of you listening to music by the Beatles and Sinatra, I have had this notion of you being a very unassuming art lover. There are so many facets of your personality that have been leaked into the press that it’s hard to pin down who you really are. Maybe that’s how you like it. I’ve been thinking more about your personality ever since I recently read an article where the writer mentioned, off-handedly, that you have a weird personality and maybe that’s affecting your performance issues. To tell you the truth, I didn’t bother committing to memory who wrote the article — and, actually, now that I think more about it, I think it was a blog post (a professional one, though, on the website for a newspaper) and not an actual article.
What could be so weird about your personality? Are you really the chain pot smoker that everyone fantasizes about as heartily as I fantasize about your potential as a husband? As long as you’re nothing like Jeff Kent, I think I can be OK with however weird you are. But the question does remain: Who is Tim Lincecum?
If you ever want to answer that question, then I would love being granted the exclusive interview — or, alternatively, you should interview with Kruk and Kuip. (Hell, I was going to recommend Ann Curry here, because I like her and hate what NBC did to her, but it would be sacrilege to bypass Kruk and Kuip for a juicy scoop like this.)
Yesterday, I made the mistake of engaging someone who is against all the gay marriage stuff. To tell you the truth, I’ve steered clear of the opposition, even though I know that it is always useful, no matter the subject of the argument, to know what the other side thinks and why. But because I feel that gay marriage is as incontrovertible as breathing or the sun rising, I have never especially felt the need to “defend” it. The reason why I piped up yesterday is because Paolo, one of Mary’s brothers, dared to post a Facebook status message in defense of gay marriage — to which another of her brothers posted a rebuttal, which was replete with Bible verses.
There are a variety of reasons why I was moved to pipe up this time. Let me start with Paolo, who I have never named in these letters until now even though we have shared a long acquaintance. I’ve known Paolo for as long as I’ve known Mary, but we’ve never been close. In high school, Paolo was the popular older brother whose footsteps Mary had the misfortune of following. “Oh, you must be Paolo’s little sister,” came the usual exclamations for nearly all of Mary’s high school career.
Paolo was popular in all the important ways — intelligence, talent, charisma — except for sports, because he wasn’t much of a jock, but he was the kind of non-jock so popular that he had a lot of jock friends. He was pretty much the Big Man on Campus, and the first time he met me, he looked at me like I was one of the flying roaches so endemic to the Southern Maryland region. I didn’t improve his perception at all when once, during a field trip to see a play, he happened to be sitting in the row in front of me when, thinking that I was being funny and smart, I whispered loudly and obviously to Mary: “I’ve seen episodes of Star Trek: Voyager that are better than this.”
Paolo turned around, and when he stared at me, not only was I a flying roach, I was a dead flying roach whose squashed remains he struggled to scrape from his designer dress shoes.
We never became friends but over the years he did warm to me, especially since it seemed that “Mary’s friend” never seemed to go away, would end up being her friend for a long time. Mary’s entire family are devout Christians, but when it comes to social issues, Mary and Paolo, to me, seem to have deviated from the line that others in their family have taken. It wasn’t long after Paolo posted his supportive status update that their brother replied. The Bible verses, too, that he was using against gay marriage were what made me want to engage, Linc. I thought, Well, I’m a church elder now, I should know a thing or two about the Bible. So maybe I was trying to show off, a little bit.
All hell broke loose — ultimately, I decided to hit “unfollow post” so that Facebook would stop notifying me that there was a new reply to the status message that had now exploded into a fiery thread. And then Mary sent me a text: “I’m so sorry about that shit with my brother. Please ignore him. It’s not worth it.”
"Aw, don’t apologize," I said. "I’m the one who dared to reply."
I’m going to tell you something that in today’s hypercontemporary parlance would be an “unpopular opinion”, Linc: I don’t want to march in the pride parade on Sunday. In fact, I hardly ever attend pride festivities. I’m not into crowds to begin with — I only ever go to FanFest or baseball parades because, well, the magic of baseball is as near to God as being with God Himself. When it comes to baseball, I am drawn for reasons that are emotional, mystical, spiritual.
I wish I hadn’t been so quick to sign up to march with my church. I wish I hadn’t been so quick to rope in Spencer and Clara — who don’t typically wake up early on Sunday mornings but readily agreed to make this one exception because of how historic 2013 has been for gay rights. That’s the only reason why I committed to this, Linc — because a year like this does not happen very often. I’d like to tell my kids that on the year that gay marriage finally became a reality all across the United States, I marched in a parade to celebrate and commemorate. They might think it very dull and disappointing if I told them that all I did to celebrate was watch a ballgame, which is all I really want to do this Sunday.
I have many reasons for writing these never-to-be-sents: like, how I’ve been blogging for a long time, since when I was in high school before “blog” was even a word. Like, how hard it is to become a published writer, and to make up for whatever it is that my submitted manuscripts have lacked in publishable quality, I have always resorted to blogging. Like, in the beginning, I did want the real Tim Lincecum to someday get back to me.
But I also write because I’m a Catholic, and we like to live by example. I write for folks like Mary and Paolo’s brother, who condemn people like me as caricatures, who see only gay marriage and are blinded to our hopes and dreams, how long it takes us to get through a trip to the grocery store, what we think about Ann Curry being fired, how we feel when Pandora plays a favorite song or when World War Z gets adapted into an inferior movie that in no way resembles the fantastic source material, or the dorky way we might seek out a comic book shop even when we are in the middle of Paris. I write because I am more than just a buzz word: a “deviance”, a “special interest”, a faggot and a foe. I have never looked at other people as anything less than complex creatures and it is my hope that others will respect me by doing the same — although I do understand Paolo’s early impression of me. That was pretty classless of me to compare a perfectly decent play against my own dorky interests.
Spencer tells me that jet lag could last up to a week. On my first day back in San Francisco, I had errands to run and appointments to meet, so I was dozing all over the place and nearly missing my bus and train stops.
I’ve no idea what I am doing up now at 6:30am, which was routine for me prior to Europe, but I feel like I should be back in bed or else I will later be overcome with a sharp desire to pass out. I hate the feeling of unexpected sleepiness — my legs get twitchy, my arms are restless, and the entirety of my body feels like it’s about to take flight from existence.
It’s entirely coincidental that I’m up unexpectedly early on the day that the Supreme Court is expected to render a decision on Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act — for all I know, they could say something before I even finish writing this never-to-be-sent. I’m looking forward to this news just as expectantly as anyone else but to tell you the truth, I am surprised at the hype that I am seeing on Facebook: folks had thrown “anticipation parties” last night, sent out invites for drinks, and some are posting status updates of not having gone to sleep at all.
For me, the rest of life keeps getting in the way. Gay marriage isn’t exclusively at the top of my mind because gay marriage is forced to share space with so much other personal, less glamorous stuff at the top of my mind (where, I suppose, real estate is as limited as San Francisco real estate, with all the requisite challenges and growth needed to maintain a life there).
Putting faith into practice is never an easy thing but as of my return from Europe I’m living that challenge firsthand. One of the most immediate takeaways that I got from my vacation is clarity for the rest of my life, this overwhelming sense that the world is so much bigger than the idiosyncrasies of my own life — that God Himself is bigger, and therefore in control. Now that I am back in my daily life, however, the hangover of vacation is fading, and even only two full days into daily life, I feel myself regressing to the person I was before going to Europe.
Our overnight trip to Lourdes from Paris didn’t entirely come as a surprise to me. Pop and Ma are Catholics through and through, and although I grew up with all the rebellion typical of the next generation raised in the faith of the prior generation, these days I have become mellowed to reconciliation and even consider myself proud to be a Catholic in spite of everything wrong with the entire organization. What did come as a surprise to me in Lourdes was how deeply being physically and literally there was a powerful experience. I was stricken by a sharp sense of place that I rarely ever detect in my daily life (except for baseball, of course). All of a sudden I was overwhelmed by a sense of meaning because it suddenly occurred to me that this land upon which I was treading was so ancient — all at once, it hit me that I was truly in the old world.
It was for this reason, and not exclusively because of the miracle of St. Bernadette, that I felt moved to move beyond sightseeing. I sought out a chapel and then, like so many who go to Lourdes, I got in line to see the grotto where Bernadette Soubirous was said to have had her vision. Like the masses in line, I reached for the water trickling down the cave rocks, faithful that the water was as miraculous for the rest of us as it was for St. Bernadette. And I prayed, Linc, because even though there was a rational and less faithful side of me insisting that all I was doing was groping rock and water, that side was countered by the inconsolable question: If I can’t move myself to prayer here, where else can I pray?
So, I believe and know that God can be reached anywhere, but during that visit I wondered if being in Lourdes, being in that grotto, was somehow the next level of faith by virtue of being in the physical presence of something much, much older.
At any rate, I am now back in my daily life, and whether or not I had put myself in touch with something that is more than just a bunch of rocks and water, I must now simply carry on.
Oh come on. You didn’t think that i would walk past a street sign referencing one of my favorite romcoms of all time without taking a picture in front of it, did you?
I’m fat. When I ran more often, I was not this fat. Going to Europe doesn’t help. Carbs are everywhere. So is sugar. I’m not complaining. I’m on vacation. Maybe I’ll change the title of my blog to Fat Bookseller. It makes more sense than Baseball 2.0, a title that I’ve kind of evolved past. I was your age when I crafted the title — brash, spirited, risky. (I’m making myself sound elderly when I’m only two years older.) But I’m not really doing anything remarkable to baseball.
I am, however, eating, praying, and eating my way through Europe. I have a lot of stories to tell from this vacation which is actually just about halfway over and, yes, I’ve already accumulated all the required, expected, and very much welcome lifetime of memories. I’ve been e-mailing Spencer, Clara, and the rest of the gang all about those memories. I’ve also been taking a lot of pictures and I’ve even started posting them on my Facebook profile, but set to friends-only.
Though it may seem that way, I don’t write about everything in my life in these never-to-be-sents. A lot of the stuff that are in these letters are things that I have already told my friends first, or Pop and Ma, at some point. I’m not a bleeding heart or one of those sleeve-wearing emotion people — OK, not always.
I am sorry about Atlanta.
Generally, I detest reading comments posted in response to news stories but these comments were surprisingly civil and even enlightening. Do you want to leave SF? Do you really want to be relief? Neither?
On Sunday, I wasn’t thinking much about the game, unfortunately. I was in Lourdes figuring out what to make of this Saint Bernadette woman. As I’ve written in these never-to-be-sents, I can be religious. But even this stuff about visions and miracles can be tough for me to wrap my mind around. At least I got a good walk out of it, though: there’s a beautiful river that runs through the town.
I walked for so long that I didn’t notice daylight fading away. Looking up, I saw the half-moon and was envious of it; soon, the phase would change and it would be whole again. I’m not sure when this phase of my life will ever change — the long walks through Europe on my own, the half moon lonely in the sky.
Believe it or not, I don’t say any of this to be self-deprecating or to elicit pity. I feel OK about the shape of my body and, yes, even my lazy eye. I feel OK that one of these days the right guy will pop up in my life and someone will think of him, “How did he end up with him [me]?!” Something is happening to me on this vacation, Linc… oh gosh, well, I guess this whole trip is my Elizabeth Gilbert moment: I’m finding myself.
I applied to school, and I got in. Because of the way that the financial aid worked out, I have to start classes later than I planned — but I am in.
I’m a church elder. All of my life, I have been searching for a faith community where my vision of having a family includes kids, a dog, a cat, a white picket fence and only the anomaly that my spouse is another man, and now I have found it: the perfect meeting of my Catholic upbringing and a progressive approach to the reverence of traditional Christian values.
Life has been busy. Constructing these never-to-be-sents in the manner one would apply to novels, short stories, and better epistles has been an unfortunately taxing priority in the face of more tangible concerns — though I am still drawn to writing you whether I scale the heights of life or descend into its shadowy valleys. Every time it crosses my fancy to write a letter to Linc, there is some other checklist item to cross off or some actual relationship that requires tending. I feel like the year got off to a fast start — I was filling out paperwork, making plans, setting goals and then when the papers were at last filled, the plans made and the goals set, the bigger challenge yet remained: waiting. Minutiae. Details. Stuff of life. Life, itself.
I think people are creatures of glamour. What we inherited from our ancestors in the scope of decisions about fighting disease, fending off large prey, and migrating toward better resources has today become want of drama and consequences that are shiny. Sometimes I wonder if that poor Lindsay Lohan enjoys constantly getting in trouble because there exists a fix that she can’t get anywhere else (besides booze and drugs — oh wait, she’s been accused of them, too).
Even when we are not busy, we are planning to be busy. This has actually been a lightweight week but much of it was spent planning the near future. I’ve found that as I get older and all my closest friends remain close yet steadily grow into their own independent adult lives, it’s more and more challenging to get together. Lately I have reminisced about those younger college days where one phone call would lead to the word of mouth that would result in a gathering for dinner at some diner or a trip to the movies — those days are gone. I am not exactly longing to go back — there is beauty in forward movement, messy as it is — I have spent a considerable and private component of my busy public life looking back as a way to relieve the stress of now.
Did you know that in a few days we will be Springing Forward? The time change hadn’t even occurred to me until someone brought it up. So much about the time that’s in front of me right now is always changing that I can barely keep up with this intangible notion of Daylight Savings — what, exactly, is it saving? It’s the same daylight, the same little squares on the calendar.
There is certainly beauty in forward movement — let’s enjoy the ride. Growth is not really about the end result as much as it has to do with how it happened. A tree that bears fruit didn’t magically appear out of nowhere, tall and voluminous, with succulent sustenance. It took time to grow. There may have even been a point where it didn’t look like it was going to turn green, much less ever bear fruit. Maybe it had go endure seasons without rain. Maybe the soil was not good for a long time. We don’t know. All we see is the tree, and how beautiful it is, and the yummy apples to eat.
I may be scheduling my life like a mad man but there are smaller details that contribute to life just as importantly. Those details don’t make it onto the calendar but they are remain vital components of this wonderful and expansive life. I still like writing to you, Linc.