032.0: The moment.
Geez. Do I have to land in the vicinity for you guys to finally win one on the road? =p
Some writer, some time ago, once said that no matter how you play the game of baseball, no matter how hard it gets, the object is always to get back home. That writer said it more eloquently than I ever could in a botched paraphrasing. Anyway, I thought about that tonight.
I’m now in Maryland but only for a day, and I immediately found myself wishing that I had booked more time to stay for a stopover before we head off to Europe. I was sitting down to dinner with Pop and Ma at our kitchen. Ma made two dishes in the standard Filipino portion of Way Too Much: bistek and spaghetti. The latter, of course, was cooked in the standard Filipino recipe of sugary tomato sauce — but in place of hot dog slices, she actually made meatballs. Also, she modified the bistek a little from what I’m used to eating growing up.
"Do you like the mushrooms?" she said of the first new addition. "Those are organic. And the beef? That’s Angus."
All good changes. But I was happy to devour what was basically the same glorious home cooking I’d known all my life.
I know a guy who makes fun of me because of how often I talk about Ma (and Pop). He calls me a Mama’s Boy. I guess I am. This guy, from what he’s told me, doesn’t have such a great relationship with his own parents. Lots of people cover up emotional inadequacies in their lives with a lot of angry deflection.
Pop and Ma were going over some odds and ends of our trip, and sometime during the conversation, Pop interrupted to compliment the mushrooms.
"This was a good idea," he said in English.
Ma said, "Sarap naman, diba?" (Roughly translated: “Yeah, I know.”)
My mouth was too full to add much of anything to the conversation. Not gonna lie, Linc: I was stuffing my face, and merrily so. The funny thing is that they think I’ve lost weight. I know I’ve lost a little, but not so much to provoke their stunned reactions when they picked me up at the airport. You only have to look at the pictures Selma took when I was in Buffalo. Maybe they’re not used to seeing in cleaned up in polo shirts and pants other than jeans…
Over dinner, Pop and Ma kept talking and while I was twirling spaghetti around my fork, I thought about a dumb story that I wrote when I was in high school. The story is since lost to the ages — the notebook it’s in or the hard drive it was saved on is probably in the trash — but I can still remember that I was trying to write from the perspective of parents. What I was doing trying to write from the perspective of characters twice my age trying to raise a kid, I don’t know. You know how it is when you are young. You think you know everything.
It was called The Mistakes We Made. The writing was not very good. I don’t have to remember the exact text of the story, just the idea that I was trying to express, which was some teenagerly rant against Pop and Ma. How wrong I thought they were about… everything; mostly, I thought at the time, about how they raised me.
At dinner tonight, while Pop and Ma were discussing organic mushrooms and the importance of photocopying our passports (I already left behind a copy with Clara and her fiance), I was twirling spaghetti and thinking about the dumb kid who would write such a story. I also thought about how unfamiliar most of my life is to me; later, after dinner, I was on Facebook looking at pictures that one of my coworkers posted from a recent event at work. While I was clicking through photos of the store that for a year has been my workplace and has constituted a significant chunk of my daily life, I was also thinking about, and contrasting with, everything I know about being here in Maryland, about being back in the home where I grew up. I was breathless at the chasm between the two worlds.
I don’t want to confuse familiarity with belonging. Would I move back here to Maryland, in this house, to be with Pop and Ma full time the way it used to be? Every time I visit, it seems tempting, and I haven’t been back here for a visit in, I think, two years. Last year, Pop and Ma came to San Francisco for the holidays. At some point during our trip in Europe, I might suggest that I come here for Christmas and hope they like the idea — not that they wouldn’t, but they, too, have become resigned to the natural course of life and the different worlds we have come to inhabit. Hell, maybe I’ll even come back for Thanksgiving too, if I can swing the resources.
I don’t know how you reconcile all the things in your life that to me seem so disparate. You’re away from your family and your hometown for six months out of the year every year. Do you ever feel disoriented whenever you go back? Is there a period of acclimation that you have to endure before you feel like your off-season life, which I would assume is your real life, feels back to normal? And what about all this travel — man, so many airplane rides, so much adjustment and readjustment to gravity and time zones? I’ve had back-to-back trips to the east coast and they have left me exhausted in my every day life. But you, Linc — you do this for a living, constantly and consistently through half of the year, on top of being a pro athlete. Maybe taking these things into consideration, we could be a little bit more forgiving of your recent performance issues.
Ever since I became a fan of yours, I have started noticing the number 55 almost… everywhere, all the time. I know that you once stated the number 55 means almost nothing to you, that you felt and accepted it as an arbitrary assignment. Nothing more, nothing less. But ever since 2009, I can’t separate that number from your spot on the Giants even though 55 is a fairly common number because it’s… well, I’m not sure why it’s so common, really. Maybe because it’s a nice “round” number. Also, 55 is the speed limit in most places. Your success in the Bigs, from my understanding, was precocious and fairly quick. What if now your talent and ability are slowing to a point that’s more standardized? I know that’s not very much consolation. But I hear a lot of talk about how your time as a pro is winding down and I think it’s all such bullshit. Until you tell me, personally, otherwise that baseball is no longer your thing, I think I have the answer and it has nothing to do with the husbandly things I wish I could do for you. My answer is really a question for you to answer: now that you are slowing down to normal, how can you get back onto the freak lane?
While you are contemplating the answer to that question and who knows what else — you Geminis always surprise me — I should get back to my spaghetti. Pop was asking me what I thought of San Antonio. I told him that I don’t think much of them but that I like Miami even less. He smiled at that and then we watched a little bit of the game together before he went back to packing his suitcase for the trip. Sitting in front of the TV and commenting on the crazy way Miami was stomping all over San Antonio was our way of catching up. The flight from San Francisco was exhausting, though, and I almost fell asleep on his shoulder before he woke me up again by admiringly running his hand through the haircut that I got, still fresh from Selma’s wedding in Buffalo.
"I really like your haircut," he beamed.
And then he turned to the TV: “AW, SHIEEET.”