For the love of the game, I gave the Twins a chance…

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As I got off the bus and saw it there, my breath caught in my throat for a moment. I have been near it before, but today was MY day. Today I was getting to be a part of it. We walked towards the stadium and crossed the street, the kind-yet-stoic crossing guard waving us on, whistle in mouth, donning his fluorescent yellow vest.  Stepping onto the sidewalk I looked left to see the championship banners hung proudly against the honey-colored bricks…1965, 1969, 1970…We turned to our right and walked along the sidewalk, my son being drawn in by the megastore with offerings of every kind and color for this, HIS team.  And there, around the corner was this beautiful wall, so simple in its design, yet magical in its effect-a building-sized wall of metal tags that each dangle from a frame.  When the wind is silent, they mean little…but then the breeze…and your eye is captivated by this beautiful effect of mist rolling across the stadium, or of an undisturbed surface of a lake being rippled.

The energy hit us at once as we turned that corner-the excitement, the feeling of all being there for one reason, all robed in varying shades of red and white and blue, with the same TC logo, to support this team. We found our gate and entered, immediately heading for the souvenir stand to buy the coveted foam finger.  I stood there staring at the wall of mist, entranced by its effect and then allowed my eye to wander left towards this tall light tower, with TC traveling up and down in various patterns and effects. I breathed in deeply and thought, I have never been high, but I am sure this is close to what it must feel like.

Foam finger purchased, we climbed the stairs to our level and found the section where our seats were located. The height dizzying at first, but easily adjusted to.  The beautiful Kentucky bluegrass was mowed perfectly into a checker pattern with alternating shades of dark and light green, the diamond neatly raked and sprayed, it was nearly game time. As we waited we were approached by several workers in their bright yellow shirts offering various baseball game favorites, using that voice, you know the one-that circa 1915 New York City newspaper boy voice. “Kettle cawn-getch ya kettle cawn he-ah!”

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First time in Twins gear. Though I joked in this photo, I felt like a traitor.  🙂

Three years ago I went to my first Twins game. I came home and wrote these thoughts and never published them in my blog. It was so long ago now that I don’t remember why. I suppose life got in the way, as is so often the case. I do remember this day with significance. It was the beginning of my transformation, my acceptance of living here on the tundra, NOT resignation, but acceptance and determination to be happy here in Minnesota, despite the difficulties.

Baseball. I grew up in a household of mild sport fan-dom. I think my parents were Mets fans. We never really talked about it, but I remember Mets paraphernalia around my home. I always enjoyed watching baseball, but my real love started as a young adult when I discovered those magical Yankees 🙂 I became close friends with another woman who had been a lifelong fan and she taught me all I needed to know about the Yanks. I watched every game I could, got to know all the players, their stories, their mannerisms.

Whatever. I hear your shouts and eyerolls. No matter. They were my team. I’ve gotten over justifying to people why I loved them. I loved them for all the reasons anyone else loves a local team. But more than anything, I loved the sport. The sounds of the game, the announcers, the sheer simplicity of the rules. Then I moved here and with all the nonsense of having to buy a special cable channel to watch my Yankees, well, I lost touch with my beloved baseball.

I lived four years without baseball. I was swallowed up here on the tundra, by a lack of friends, a hate for the weather, a non-understanding of the culture, and a resentment that the Twins were now my local team. I lost sight of many of the things that made me who I am, including my baseball love. Until finally, in that life-giving Spring of 2011 (which I have referenced before) when I decided to stop being miserable, where I found beautiful friendships, started to explore this great city, and emerged from my life doldrums,  I decided to give the Twins a chance so I could enjoy baseball again. I did it for my love of the game.

I respected the Twins. They had history and tradition behind them. They weren’t a new, commercially-made team with a lame-ass uniform (think late-nineties Arizona Diamondbacks). They had good stories, some locally-made heroes, some successes. I felt that I could support them without completely turning my back on my Yanks.

The Yanks will always be my first love. They got my passion, my fire, as any first love. But the Twins, well, I’m growing older with them, sharing them with my kids. They let me teach my kids all there is to love about baseball, and since they don’t win as frequently as OTHER teams 😉 the kids will know that love for the game isn’t always about winning. It’s about the crack of the bat and the second of collectively-held breath waiting to see if it goes out of the park. It’s about catching a pop-up and getting on the jumbotron (which happened to us at our first Twins game back in my magical spring). It’s about cheering en masse for your team and hoping for some ninth-inning miracle. It’s about the chance to be free of the day’s worries and feel pure joy for a few hours every now and again because you are reminded that you are part of something bigger than yourself.

 

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Ok, so I still try to pass on my Yankee love :)
Ok, so I still try to pass on my Yankee love 🙂
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Circumstantial Erosion

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Did you ever experience a friendship or other relationship that degraded so far that at some point, when it got to be ugly and mucky and unbearably sad, all you wanted to do was climb into a time machine and transport yourself back to a moment when the friendship was still good and talk to the person the way you once knew them, telling them what’s now going on because that person, that friend you once knew, would understand? Yes, I know a little about that.  It’s been a part of my life lately, but when I stop to think about it, it’s always a part of life as long as there are relationships in it.

A few years ago now, Chris, my darling Hubs, and I had a gigantic and super-serious talk about our marriage. Life had been hard. We had moved to Minnesota, experienced job loss, lived without many friends, had lots of small children and not enough money, and we let all of these happenings take their toll on us. Our relationship was suffering from what I now call circumstantial erosion, the unfortunate reality of allowing life and all the crap it brings to erode away at your relationships because of your lack of care for those relationships. What I have learned since that time is that this is not just a marriage problem, but a relationship problem.

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Relationships of all kinds-marriages, partnerships, friendships, parent/child-all  take work and lots of it. They require time and and sacrifice and grace and, perhaps most importantly, intentionality. Without intentional efforts to continue building your relationships and maintaining them, the happenings of life, both big and small, will wash over those relationships and carry them out to sea. The thing about erosion, and if you are from an ocean town you may understand this better, is that it doesn’t happen quickly. It happens slowly, gradually, unnoticeably, a little bit of sand at a time, until suddenly one day you look out and the beach has disappeared and you find yourself standing on just a strip of sand, wondering where your relationship has gone.

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Be intentional. Be intentional. And when you think you have invested in your relationships and been intentional, be more intentional. Work at them. Don’t let all that life brings distract you. Don’t take the easy way and let your relationships drift. Give those people whom you deem important in your life as much purposeful effort and care as you can give them while still maintaining your own strength.

Sometimes erosion is irreversible. Sometimes by the time you realize what has happened, the damage may be too far along and it would take the Army Corps of Engineers to come in with major equipment to rebuild the shore. But sometimes, if you are watchful and careful, you might be able to prevent the shore from being completely washed out from beneath you. Tell your people the hard things, be honest, have conversations, let them know that you see things breaking down and eroding. Tell them you won’t let life and all its happenings wash away what you have. Tell them that it will take mutual effort, but that you are willing to work at it. And more importantly, that you are willing to keep working at it, since erosion is always a threat. Because these people, these folks whom you love and have invested in, are worth just a little more of your effort, no? To prevent circumstantial erosion? And maybe, just maybe, you can turn things around and the shore will be restored once more. I know it’s possible. I’ve seen it happen.  🙂

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A few years after that big conversation

Frozen

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Joyful summer, 2011

I decided today was as good a day as any to start blogging again. I’d stopped for a while. Papers to write. Friends to whom I could tell my secrets and thoughts. There was little need for a blog, I guess. But here I am three years or so from the start of this blog and there’s a need again. Friends keep moving or moving on or are prepping to move. Getting married. Making new friends. Moving countries or states. So now, seven years into living in Minnesota things are hard again. Not as hard as they were when I started blogging, but difficult. Plus, I am currently awash in melancholy which is always a great time to write.

Three years ago my world opened up. I met several dear friends in quick succession. My one friend (who has since moved over the ocean) said, at the time, that she felt my heart open to the world that spring. I was invigorated and felt alive and joyful. I spent that summer with days at the lake where friends would come and go with their kids. We’d bring lunches and stay all day. I had weekly coffee talks with another dear friend with whom I’d talk politics and policy. I turned thirty-five that summer and threw myself a party and had many guests. Now, I look back on pictures of my party and that summer and feel drowned in sorrow. Most of the people have physically moved and some of the others have simply moved on.

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I know for many people this is just a part of life. Friendships ebb and flow, but for me it aches. I love people. I love the people in my life. They become like my family. I invest in them wholeheartedly. I feel and enjoy their presence with every bit of my soul and the loss of their presence, or sometimes even the reduction of time spent in their presence, is agonizing. I guess I don’t adapt to changes very well.

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One friend I have made here in Minnesota posted quotes about love for the entire month of February. One quote shared was, “It is both a blessing and a curse to feel everything so very deeply.” I could not agree more. Sometimes I wish I was different. I wish I didn’t notice when friendships change or care as much when people leave. I wish I didn’t feel it so intensely. I wish I could be like my husband who says, tongue in cheek, “Relationships: A mess not worth making.” Alas, that is not the case. So, I trudge through this world adoring and hating, feeling exhilarated and distraught as friendships begin and end and people come and go. It is what it is. I make no apologies because this quality is at the core of my being. I ask only for an extra measure of grace and the understanding that for some people change is much harder than for others.

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Lastly, but not unrelated, I saw the movie “Frozen” today. It struck many cords with me. I got sort of teary when Princess Anna was singing about true love. Not because of the true love part, but somehow, Disney captured in their animation pure joy on Anna’s face, which reminded me of that spring and summer three years ago and the feeling of complete contentment and peace I experienced that year, much because of the many wonderful people with whom I had the pleasure of spending time. I long for that again. During the movie I also found myself thinking that life would be much easier if my heart were frozen and impenetrable, but in order to avoid the pain and sorrow of friendship, one must also miss out on the love and joy with which it is coupled, and I guess I wouldn’t really give that up. I had an all-out cry at Olaf’s summer time song. Yeah, I totally feel that way about summer. Chris thought it was funny that I was so moved by such a silly song, and we both agreed that summer can’t come soon enough to hopefully move me from my sorrow, even just a bit.

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My Constant

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For the record…

The posts prior to this entry are older, but they record a part of my journey. I like Minnesota a little more now than I did when I wrote many of these posts, although I still hate winter. I’ve managed to find some friends (although they keep moving), find a community, go back to school, all things that make life here in Minnesota better. A whole slew of blogposts waiting to be written when time permits.