13 strikeouts - 148 pitches - 1st career No-Hitter #SFGiants
001.0: Turn on the lights.
You sure gave me a lot to think about on the 13th, the day of each month that, because I was born on a 13th day, is when I get especially introspective — well, more than I usually do on all the other soul-baring days of the year. Hah.
I worked both jobs yesterday. I got the new job during a weird overlap where they scheduled me while I was still wrapping up my two-weeks notice. I was up from five in the morning and didn’t even nod off during train rides. I finally fell asleep around 11 last night — came home and was altogether exhausted, but I stayed up a little while longer to catch up with Clara, too.
"I wasn’t thinking it was the last out at the end of the no-hitter," Lincecum said long after the truth set in. "I was just running on adrenaline the last couple of innings. My mind kept wanting to go into pitching mode."
That is pretty much how I would characterize the way I handle new situations, especially new ones into which I willingly put myself, like getting this new job and leaving behind the familiarity of the old job and the bonds that I made with those colleagues. Instinct, adrenaline, complete submergence in the situation, the moment.
All around the world, everywhere in life, you always hear the most successful people talk about how challenging themselves made them better people. What they will probably never say, but that I will say, is that it’s not always fun. I think that the people who claim they woke up one day and changed their lives for good by proclaiming “Today I will challenge myself!” — or some other version of the mantra, and with the exclamation mark to boot — are the ones who usually end up falling hard, or otherwise lying to themselves. Challenging one’s self is a process. And it takes a while to get through, if one ever gets through it.
You got through it.
When I wrote earlier that I feel like I’ve made a mistake by leaving the old job, it was just nerves. But that doesn’t deny how sad I am about leaving. I feel like the way I should have felt when I left for college — at 18 years old, if I hadn’t been consumed by the vanity of youth, I would have probably admitted to having a wrenched heart about leaving behind Pop and Ma instead of the trumpeting of independence that I blared all-too typically. Looking back, I now see differently the fight that Ma and I got into when I happily ran to her with my acceptance letter from San Francisco State and she met my cheer with bubble-popping disdain about going to school so far away. I now see that she was right to feel that way, and that if I had the power to get up from this chair and step into that moment knowing what I know now, I might, just might, do a re-do seeing things her way. One of the schools that I applied to locally was Goucher. I was looking at Howard, too. Sometimes I wonder what my life would be like not only if I had stayed home for college, but if I had gone to Goucher or Howard.
I wish that July 13, 2013 weren’t also the day that George Zimmerman was found not guilty. You can probably already guess how I feel about that verdict, and so for the purpose of this never-to-be-sent I’ll limit my acknowledgement of it to this paragraph, ending only with the reminder that whatever else this verdict means, a child is dead.
Golden Gate University is a good school, too. I might not have ended up there if I had stayed behind to go to Goucher or Howard. I might not have ended up meeting Clara, or Ray, or any of the second family that I have now. And as for these never-to-be-sents… who knows.
I have a career coach. It’s something that GGU does for its first-year students. We meet every week. Last week, my coach told me that she used to be a competitive swimmer. That was the first time she’d ever admitted personal about herself. We’d met three times before and she was always completely professional, which is good, but can also feel a little antiseptic. Maybe I was being a little personal, discussing my own feelings outside of the structure of a career coaching session, but somehow it inspired her to do the same. I wonder if that happens for you, too — if with Bochy, or with whomever it is besides your dad that you turn to for help with baseball, you sometimes end up broaching the subject of things that don’t have anything to do with baseball, at least not outright.
I’d been telling my career coach about how scary it was to make the transition that I was making. We had a long discussion about the pros and cons of making career transition, focusing on the pros, of course. And then I started talking about nerves.
"Do you have a mantra that you can tell yourself before you go to work?" she asked. "A memory, or maybe an image of someone? Anything that grounds you? Brings focus?"
I was too embarrassed to admit that I look up to you. But then we started talking about listening to music, and I started thinking generally about how athletes submerge themselves in their headphones when they are warming up. And of course, I thought about how you do the same.
I know I’ve written four years worth of never-to-be-sents that are all sorts of corny, and who knows what kind of readership Baseball 2.0 has. (I suspect a lot of teen girls, and some older women.) But fuck it: I look up to you, Tim Lincecum.
For most of my life, I have felt like a gray-haired, 56-year-old lesbian. Even when I was young, and outwardly seeming like I was approaching life at the leisurely rate so often decried as youth being wasted on the young, internally I was fighting time. The only difference is that my priorities were different — in those years, I struggled to get published, realized that I wouldn’t and, yes, I had to spend additional time processing that although I am a writer, I was not exactly a publishable writer. The human experience is very layered, like an onion or — if even the thought of onions burns your eyes — some other item in produce. Anyway, I was born young as I am old. I am naive about many things and yet I’ve always felt undue possession of what Julian Barnes would refer to as the sense of an ending.
(By the way, check out the user comments on that article above to which I’ve linked. Like most comments posted online, they are truly heinous. Whenever I read these sorts of things I wonder in bafflement about whether or not people really say these things to each other in real life. Dare I say they would not. In my experience — sadly only subjective — I’ve seen that people are different creatures in the real world. Whereas the internet allows them uncensored hostility, something about the real world, of being in the physical presence of someone else, tempers that hostility into a kind of modesty resembling something of humanity.)
I think that I was a little tough on France. After writing that letter, I spent the whole day sitting with my feelings about going to France. I don’t mean that I was literally sitting around; yesterday started out with a busy morning full of errands, and for the rest of the day I was alternating between doing my homework and procrastinating on it (yep, I must be in school again), and through all of those things I was thinking about the looming period of travel just days away. What I have concluded is that, yes, it’s going to be fun. And yes, it’s a great opportunity and exciting.
You might think that from these letters, I have a natural ability for introspection that makes sitting with my feelings an equally natural consequence of such ability. But not only is it far from the truth, that chasm is best demonstrated by my high school years: I didn’t get to be an overweight teenager because I knew how to manage my feelings.
As I have previously written, I have seen the same shrink for the last 7 years, or so. For many, there is still this unspoken notion that therapy should have some kind of an ending; perhaps the fault is in the use of the word itself, which implies that at some point one is healed when, in fact, the process is a journey and a practice rather than a plan. Do you still go to that meditation center up in Marin? (Yes, I still remember that rather minor detail from some article published some years ago.)
The truth is that I’m not as prepared for France as I’d hoped to be. I allowed the rest of my life to get in the way and be an excuse to keep this trip as far away as possible. In the back of my mind, I had all these grand ideas for mastering the language and making sure I dress right but, no, six days until France and I still don’t even know what to pack. (Fortunately, I watch a lot of Rick Steves, so I at least know how to pack efficiently.) And while I’ve never had an aptitude for learning foreign languages other than being bi-lingual in English and (barely) Tagalog, I’m especially tripped up by French — for example, does one say “bonjour” at night, like when one is out to dinner, as well as during the day?
What I’m armed with are the fundamentals of travel for any big city. Watch your belongings. Don’t go into shady areas. Use common sense. Listen to your gut — that last piece of advice was expertly codified in de Becker’s The Gift of Fear, an oldie but goodie, as they say. Spencer lent it to me years ago but I still encounter customers at the store looking for it, which we don’t (usually) have in stock anymore, but is certainly orderable.
Doing something for the first time always terrifies me. I build up all sorts of insecurities about it, just as I’m building up all sorts of insecurity toward going to Europe for the first time. It is a bad habit that I have never been able to shake. Even in a professional setting, like when I have to speak publicly, for the benefit of my colleagues and anyone else around me I try to minimize my nervousness when in fact I am nauseous with anxiety. The experience is entirely internal and not just because I am ashamed — in addition to embarrassment, what I’m also trying to do is manage the anxiety, work my way through it. Most times this is effective, other times it is not: once, when I was still the events coordinator at my store, I royally bungled my introduction for the author Fred Coleman, whose refined air, as well as the genteel audience that came out to see him, had sent me quaking in my suddenly class-conscious boots.
(By the way, I just took a second glance at the opening sentence of the preceding paragraph — yes, I was terrified, but I also had several beers in me. If that’s what you were thinking about, you goof.)
The most important reason that I am changing my tune about France is for the whole reason that this is happening at all: for Ma. This morning, I found out that a gal with whom I used to be close friends in high school is with her mom in the hospital. Her mom had suffered a stroke. The wording of the most recent status message from this old friend sounds up in the air about her mom’s condition. What struck me the most about this revelation was how closely it hit. Not only did I think about Pop and Ma, of course, but about how close I have remained all these years to the person I once was. In many ways, I feel like I am no different from the wandering boy I was in high school, and this old friend and her mom had been kind enough to take me in across some of those wanderings. Even though we have not seen each other in years, this old friend’s news made everything feel like yesterday.
For a few years now, I have been in that era of life where longtime friends get married, have kids, and sometimes their parents, who were sometimes like parents to me as well, live long lives, and sometimes their parents return to the Lord. I know that all of these things are typical of life but for some reason I can’t stop reacting in astonishment.
I know that during his campaign Mitt Romney cited Friday Night Lights as his favorite TV show — and when I first read about it, I didn’t say much other than a mild, “Huh.”
It’s hard to attack someone for liking a TV show, let alone a TV show that you passionately like, let alone a TV show that you passionately like that is also liked by someone who happens to be running for president for a political party that opposes most if not all of what you believe in. Anyway, it’s now just hitting me that I am waking up in a world where Barack Obama is still the President of the United States; the realization came to me obscurely at about six in the morning, when I was pouring my usual cup of coffee and settling into my first-thing-in-the-morning routine of checking my e-mail, scanning Facebook, and browsing the news. Suddenly, what happened on Tuesday night finally caught up with me, and for the first time in a long time, I felt a twinge of the hope that I felt in 2008, that I used to possess in abundance in my youth.
Friday Night Lights has been gone for a while and the actors have all moved on — I recently saw Kyle Chandler in that great new Ben Affleck movie Argo and Connie Britton went on to star in American Horror Story and Nashville — but I can’t help continuing to cite this show as inspiration, and if Mitt Romney also found it inspirational, then who am I to judge? Inspiration has never been something to which I’ve easily admitted. It’s very common for people to say this person inspires them and that person is someone they admire or is even outright their idol but I’ve always had a hard time really saying who and what moves me. In my life as a job hunter, during interviews or employment questionnaires, I had sometimes come across the question of who I look up to, and I usually fell back on the answer of Pop and Ma. But does that really count? Yes, we have a good relationship but — and I know this is going to sound insensitive — did I really look up to them? When I make the time to make myself reflect on an answer to that question, I see that Pop is and has always been a hard worker, and so has Ma, with the addition that she has always managed to stay pretty and appear youthful well into her early fifties. (Most folks think she’s still in her thirties, forties at least.) I don’t really know why the question “who do you look up to?” has always been for me one that requires deep reflection to answer. Maybe, like with everything else, I just need to chill out, man. Not everything requires reflection. But I can’t help it. It’s who I am.
So who do I admire? Well, definitely Pop and Ma: for coming to this country to build a new life for themselves, for bringing me into this world and having to put up with my life in addition to each of their own. For everything they’ve done to make it into their fifties (actually, Pop is 61). In terms of flat out, someone-who-is-not-even-remotely-connected-to-me idolatry, I have recently admitted to myself that I am quite infatuated with Hillary Clinton. Oh, I always respected her, but it has only been in the last few weeks that I’ve been able to outright declare, at long last, an idol — and that’s her. Her life of constant and consistent achievement all the way from her high school years to becoming Secretary of State has to me seemed breathtaking enough that I feel like a fool for not supporting her 2008 presidential run, although I do not have buyer’s remorse over President Obama despite sometimes looking to Madame Secretary and thinking, “What if?”
To some degree, I also consider Bill Clinton an idol, and if Chelsea ever ran for office, then I would definitely be in favor of a dynasty not unlike the Kennedy family. But I remain partially convinced that Bill Clinton would not have been much of an idol — or even much of a president — were not Hillary in the picture. Idolatry is a hobby in which one must naturally and conveniently overlook the subject’s flaws. With Hillary, I know that there are many lingering questions, like what exactly happened with poor Vince Foster. It is unfortunate, to put it mildly, that in Hillary’s ascent to influence, someone died; in glossing over the darker components of Hillary’s success, I have had to gloss over this as well as her questionable financial dalliances, with the explanation that is most common to so many of achievement: it took a lot to get there. Anyway, at 30-years old, I am ready to officially declare my first idol: Hillary Rodham Clinton.
I mention my age again, not out of self-pity like I am usually been prone to doing, but because I think it’s strange in the late bloomer sort of way. Although it never much occurred to me when I was young, now it has become important for me to have something to aspire to, to see some person or situation or some TV show and admit to myself: That’s how I want to be. I know that you, my dear imaginary boyfriend, are probably surprised that your real-life counterpart’s name is not first on my list of idols. (You should also know that, since I am a Christian, the notion of idols is controversial and even contrary — though of course I don’t put any man or woman above God. Duh. To suggest that is to be needlessly argumentative, or in the parlance of the moment, to be a troll.) Actually, even as I was gravitating toward what would eventually be a crush on Tim Lincecum — yet not admitting to myself that I had a crush, much less idolized him — I was already collecting data on what would make him someone worthy enough to look up to. For some time, the only answers were that you’re on a baseball team that I like, and that you’re a phenomenal pitcher. It is an unspoken job requirement that athletes have to be role models but it’s not a necessity and certainly not everyone in the public eye demonstrates admirable behavior. (Here, I’m thinking of Miguel Cabrera’s behavior immediately following the World Series, although of course other athletes have acted far worse for other reasons. See also: the fall of Lance Armstrong.) In writing these never-to-be-sents to you, Linc, I have explored many aspects of myself and the meaning of this fixation I have on you. Everything I know about you is secondhand and I am generally aware that I will never get to know you personally. When I first got into baseball in 2009, I only thought of you as a member of the team and some guy who plays baseball really well; it was not until recently that it dawned on me that your star is fiery like so many greats such as Joe Montana, Steve Young, and Barry Bonds. Vaguely I have thought to myself I really know how to pick ‘em — which is to say, I always end up falling for the guy that I can’t possibly ever have. These never-to-be-sents are at once autobiographical and self-indulgent. I write them to try and make sense of the world but to also, in a way, be remembered. Although I look up to the likes of you and Hillary Clinton, I am also greatly aware that I will never be in that company. If you are a star, then I am the chunk of rock that, not only was I demoted from being a planet but… I was never much a planet to begin with.
I guess it’s no surprise that I have resumed writing to you, Linc. This entire year has been one of such great transition for me that even the World Series and re-election of President Obama were not the kinds of celebrations that I had once allowed to eclipse everything else in my life. This past week alone has been monumental in how it has forced me to take a good, long look at my life. I’ll get into that later, in all the never-to-be-sents that will surely be written, but for now I want to say that a little self-indulgence is good: for me, for you, for all. We all need something to get through the day. Like the teenager that I should have outgrown long ago, I need inspiration.
I found out about you guys winning last night when I was running down Van Ness Avenue in my beauty-is-pain dress shoes. (Everyone who sees them is flabbergasted that I can “afford” them. In fact, I can — because they were 15 bucks at Crossroads.) Two middle-aged women were waiting for a crosswalk light to change and I was hurriedly on my way to the Herbst Theatre after I had to high-tail it back to the store because I forgot something important.
"So they won?" said one of the women.
The other nodded and smiled an older woman woman smile that must accompany her when she offers desserts to her grandchildren. “Took them ten innings, too.”
"Yikes," said the other, who was clearly impressed but with only half the enthusiasm, I suspected, of a fan or a native. And I was right about her not being local. She said: "I’m visiting. In New York, the game has constantly been on everywhere."
Back at the Herbst, I relayed the news to my boss and we high-fived.
Did you read that, Linc? I HIGH-FIVED WITH MY BOSS. You few, you happy few, you band of brothers better win today, I swear. (Hunter Pence’s Shakespearean pep talk has gone viral. And who high-fives with their boss unless their hometown baseball team’s glory brings them together across the boundaries of employer and subordinate?)
Sadly, while you guys were out winning in Cincinnati, not long after my Carrie Bradshaw moment I was slipping and sliding off a steep learning curve. Ah, I won’t get into the details except to say Lesson Learned. These bigger events still trip me up but I’m hoping that toward the end of the month I’ll be golden for the rest of the season. What happened last night involved me overlooking a crucial step, and I know why it happened: I was too busy being nervous. I’m still not used to certain parts of my job. Luckily, after work I unwound with Spencer, who for a time was a librarian for the city, and Clara, who worked her way through college as a stage manager. If you ever wanted to have an idea of the kind of work that I do, just imagine a cross between a librarian and a stage manager. It’s a strange and lucky thing that I ended up with friends who worked those jobs. I’d have never suspected that their friendship would come in handy for making me feel better one October night in the baseball postseason of 2012.
285.0: If you can smell the ice cream, it’s probably spoiled.
I am a true outlier. While many of my Facebook friends are posting about the Giants, the A’s and — from my friends living in my first hometown — the Nationals, I have spent the last two hours providing unedited commentary about… General Hospital.
Honestly, imagining life before Facebook is fuzzy. It’s as if my natural inclination in life were leading up to Mark Zuckerberg’s invention. I have always enjoyed posting about what’s on my mind. In the 90s, when the internet was a smaller place, there were these things called bulletin boards. You dialed into them. They were super local, meaning that they were usually some neighbor’s pet project. You could post messages and download files — the file sharing of its day, the iTunes. Or you could sign up for an “online service,” which today is known as an ISP or internet service provider, except the internet wasn’t this pervasive thing back then. It was a novelty and everyone was still getting to know it, so an online service like Prodigy or AOL was your gateway to this brave new world. Through all of these, I have balanced being a shy kid with a boisterous nature online. Just ask Selma.
Maybe I’m not an outlier. I’m… something.
Years ago, the first time that I lived in the Sunset district, I lived on the corner of 33rd Avenue and Taraval Street. Spencer and I were exploring the neighborhood and for reasons that are lost in time, we came to a stop at the corner of 34th and Taraval. On the pavement it was written: 34 TH AVE.
In order to read this, I had to become severely hunched over. (I weighed much more back then.)
"What’s wrong?" Spencer asked.
"I’m confused. What is 34… thave?"
Spencer was just as perplexed as I was. “What?”
And then she saw what I was reading.
She began to walk away. “Oh my God, Joe.”
Losing weight did not bring any new enlightenment to my brain. One day, we were snacking at Joe’s Ice Cream in the Outer Richmond, on Geary Street and 19th Avenue. (By this time, I was fully aware that TH and AVE were not one word.) Have you ever been there? It would be so cute if my future husband took me there to propose to me. That sounds really done, huh? As if I ought to be a fan of Nicholas Sparks books — yet I am not. After the movie version of The Notebook, I read the book, which was a big letdown. New York may churn out the books but no one does porn of the heart like Hollywood.
I was picking at my chocolate ice cream, trying to savor it for as long as I could before it turned into soup, and I idly said to Spencer, “Why can’t you smell ice cream?”
"What?" Spencer said. She was perplexed. She had long forgotten the great THAVE disaster of years prior.
"Like, when you eat chocolate candy, you can smell the chocolate, right?" I said.
In my head, I pictured myself eating a box of chocolates. They had not been given to me by you, for this happened before baseball, in 2006, which may as well have been another lifetime. The suitor was mysterious, and anyway, irrelevant. I was imagining myself enjoying the chocolates first by sniffing them and then carefully selecting the first piece that I wanted to lingeringly enjoy.
"Like the smell of how sweet they are, and stuff," I said, inarticulately, which I blamed on sticking a spoonful of ice cream in my mouth.
"Very well put," Spencer remarked dryly. "But yeah, I know what you mean."
"So why can’t we smell the chocolate in ice cream? If you try to smell ice cream, all you ever smell is the cold."
I had been driving this train wreck of thought while looking into my ice cream cup. When I finally looked up at Spencer, her dark Asian eyes glistened with incredulity.
"Shut up, Joseph," she said very carefully. "Just… shut up."
"Coconut ice cream, for example. You can’t smell the coconuts."
"And yet you continue."
Customers came and went. The old-fashioned cash register rang and rang its little bell. We were embroiled in a staring match. I was working overtime to suppress my laughter at Spencer’s incredulity.
"Or strawberry —" I ventured, for the last time.
"Because it’s spoiled, Joseph. If you can smell your ice cream, it. Is. Spoiled.”
I dug out the rest of my ice cream. “Geez. So touchy about ice cream odor.”
"Ice cream shouldn’t have odor!"
My eyes widened at her outburst, which had been loud enough that the group sitting at the nearby counter was fleetingly hushed.
"Look what you made me do," Spencer seethed beneath her breath.
"I can’t take you anywhere."
She slapped me. Then we went to see a movie.
These bouts of airheadedness are not what you would expect from someone who had mastered HTML coding in high school and, before that, had spent sixth grade navigating the technological maze of the young internet.
The first time that I ever heard about EL James, I thought she was a meteorological phenomenon.
"What is el James?" I said. We were at the downtown Borders in Union Square. A large poster of 50 Shades of Grey hung at the front window display.
I was ignoring the now-iconic silver necktie as well as even the title of the book. That author’s name, which I didn’t even know was a name, was boring into my skull.
"What?" Spencer said.
Poor thing is always getting sideswiped by my idiocy.
I pointed to the poster and exclaimed breathlessly, “El James. Is it el hames? Or el hai-mes?”
Spencer blinked. “You’ve never heard of 50 Shades of Grey.”
I shook my head.
"E.L. James is the author," she said sharply.
Suddenly it made sense but I was just as quickly stricken about why in the world I thought I had been staring at something in Spanish! I kept this astonishment to myself and let Spencer have fun with my mistake. But when we walked onward, I was privately reflecting on that latest strange mental lapse. How could I be so thick?
Some years later, that Borders closed. The entire chain folded.
One of my coworkers let me take a picture of the front of her journal. She wrote out a title that is more of a self-motivation: I’m in love with cities I’ve never been to and people I’ve never met. This artful scrawl is superimposed over a map of Europe. I giggled and said to her, “I can relate to the part about falling in love with people I’ve never met. As you know from reading my blog.”
Her grin was wide and knowing. “Lincecum.”
Actually, it’s still weird for me to speak out loud about my never-to-be-sents and it isn’t for the reasons of self-consciousness and awkwardness that are justifiably expected. What’s weird about bringing them up in normal conversation is the exposure of the fantasy to reality. In the same way that the ancients dared not to utter the creator’s name, there’s a lost sanctity that happens if I am asked or otherwise provoked into an answer about these letters. I will give the answer but suddenly and violently the letters are diminished, somehow; left to wither upon the vines of hope fluttering defenselessly in the winds of life.
Lately I have been bumping into a lot of things. I’ve never been graceful and many times I have been jokingly called “blonde” because I overlook obvious things. But I feel that these bad oversights have been occurring more often. The simplest explanation is that I think I may need a new prescription for my eyeglasses, and I presume this because even though I haven’t been doing so much, I have been straining my eyes during more instances than I’d like. But I am predicting that whenever I do finally go to the eye doctor — which will not be for a while, since vision is not covered under Healthy San Francisco, and at my job I am still a few months away from private insurance — I will be simply told that if my prescription has changed at all, it hasn’t by much, so that wouldn’t explain why I’m suddenly moving with so much clueless measure. Perhaps it is due to an emergent state of being restive: I coast my way through tasks that are all too routine and thereby not paying attention to ordinary details, like this morning when I was pouring myself a cup of coffee and moved in such a way that I bumped into the refrigerator that I had been pretty sure I was far enough away from. I don’t know where my mind is. I may never know the real explanation beyond that I just need to pay better attention to stuff.
For the next few weeks, it looks as if my weekends are going to be split between Thursdays and Saturdays. By the way, on a related note, did I tell you that the store got a new manager? Thank goodness there was enough time for me to at least get chummy with him, if not to become friends, because the manager who hired me has left to pursue teaching full-time. He was a good boss and a mellow person overall who allowed me a whole day off, as opposed to just a single shift (which would have been good enough for me), as dedicated space for my weekly therapy appointments. His replacement has a different personality but is just as amicable and has allowed me the same courtesy for my therapy, which was recently shifted to Thursdays from another day. And just like with the old boss, I have that whole day off as well — so in the luck of the retail scheduling draw, the other half of my weekend happens to fall on a Saturday.
My old boss was the kind of guy to whom I could open up about why I needed that dedicated time off. We never talked about it much after I initially explained about therapy as the reason why I would regularly need the time off, but he didn’t bat an eyelash either, and whenever he would check up on me about my availability, I detected an undercurrent of sympathy when he’d ask, “So how’s That Thing going?”
Therapy isn’t something I talk about with just anyone, of course, but I also don’t hide that it is a part of my life. It’s useful, Linc, and dare I say that it is holds equal critical value with running as a fitness routine. Therapy doesn’t mean a person is crazy or is admitting to anything other than the fact that the person seeing the therapist is doing so because the person just needs someone to talk to who is in a role and a space that friends, family and even the real world cannot fulfill — and I say “real world” with great conviction, because the space of the therapist is a shelter, Linc. Besides these never-to-be-sents and the Our Ballpark fantasy, therapy is that rarified space in the real world where I have felt most like myself and not only is it where I have unburdened life’s daily burdens, it is where, for years, since at least 2006, I have worked with the same person to process those burdens.
Therapy isn’t about solving a problem or unearthing a singular solution. Therapy is journey yet not necessarily destination. It’s about developing the strength and smarts to move on, and to keep moving on — and it’s a good fit for people like me, whose endless search of self and the world at large would seem like a waste of time to even his closest confidants. In my therapist I have confided intensely private agonies, made complains, even quarreled. And then we worked through them. When I first came to the realization that my most successful long-term adult relationship has been with my therapist, I cracked up with such a mixture of amusement and sorrow that, in fact, I did shed some tears. And then I thought about it some more, and after a very hesitant acceptance of the reality, I was filled with gratitude. I don’t know what I would do without my therapist, Linc. (And before you can make a crack about whether or not I’ve considered hooking up with her, let me remind you that not only have I established myself as a little bit of a prude, but the important reminder that my therapist is, in fact, a her.)
Church yesterday was fantastic. Because of my work schedule, my attendance has been sporadic yet, startlingly, each time I do go, the sermon has some direct correlation with something very specific going on in my life at that moment. Maybe I’m just seeing what I want to see. (Isn’t that what belief is, anyway?) Yesterday’s service was no different. When the pastor stood up and reflected on the reading from Acts, my chest rose with the kind of anxious revelatory fervor that asks, How did you know that?
Of course, to even say that I’m going to church makes me sound incredibly self-righteous, so I want to counter the notion by admitting that I could not resist temptation. I was a bad boy, Linc. I kept checking the ballgame score. (Of course, I now know the outcome, and you probably don’t want to talk about it.) Every free moment that presented itself, like when we took a break between readings, or when it was time to get in line for communion — or (my God, how vehemently sacrilegious) during prayer — so great was the urge to get my phone and refresh the Giants home page that rather than continuing to tell myself that damnit, I’m in church and shouldn’t that matter a hell of a lot more than a ballgame, I did it anyway.