Tonight my family and I are all going to be at Comerica Park to watch the Detroit Tigers ball game. When I say family, I mean all of us--aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, close friends. If I could encase the memories of my youth in any form, it just might be a baseball.
I grew up playing and watching and living baseball. If the Tiger's weren't on the TV at night, they were on the radio. They were the topic of nearly constant conversation all summer, regardless of whether they were winning or losing, with everyone in my family. I could argue with my dad about who's hitting was killing the team and whose running was too slow, only because I could recall verbatim the conversation that I heard my grandfather having with my uncle.
Every summer, our family would pack up the station wagon and head to Detroit to watch a game or two. Back then, I can tell you, it was pretty much Hell on wheels. Let me paint you a little picture:
There were five, FIVE children, all pretty much two years apart. A 747 wouldn't have had enough space to stop us from fighting. I always say it was a good thing that mom didn't drink before she had us; if she'd known the wonderful effects of a glass of wine, there might be a clinic named after her.
The fights started before we even got in the car:
"I call window"
"I called window last night"
"You cannot call window the day before, it doesn't count"
"I stayed up until midnight and called window, so it counts for today"
Punching, hitting, crying ensued. Possibly one time, one of us slept in the car to claim the seat. I can't remember now if that happened, or if I just thought of doing it.
Dad: "Get in the goddamn car and stop your fighting. I'm going to paint all the windows black and then none of you will have a window. Now get in there and shut up. We're going to be late".
"Late". Let me expound upon "late" and my dad.
The man has never been late for anything, ever. Quite the opposite. However, we always needed to leave approximately two hours before the average person would think of departing. In his Quest to Not be Late, there were things that needed to be sacrificed. Things that most would take for granted on a daily basis, but things that we dreamed of, coveted, lusted after.
Things like rest areas.
Things like stopping to eat.
Things like talking above a whisper and listening to the radio. (For those of you that were unaware, apparently the higher the decibel of the sounds in the car, the more drag it creates upon the car, thus causing crucial seconds to be eliminated off of the arrival time)
I always pictured us arriving at Tiger Stadium and the scene from the security booth.
"What the hell? The game doesn't start for five hours" (Multiple members of the security crew tilt their heads to talk into their shoulder mics)
"Charlie, go check out that station wagon that just pulled in. Possible security threat. Who the hell drives around with their windows painted black"?
"Um, sir, possibly the local hospital is bringing over patients? They have just exited the vehicle, and are all hunched over, holding their nether regions and they appear unable to walk. How many wheelchairs do we have"?
But I digress.
What I want to say is that I wish we were all piling into that car again. Don't get me wrong. I love my children and my nieces and nephews and all that life has given us.
I just wish that there were a way to have one last trip like that, to take every single moment and memory and be those people again. Those people that argued over someone touching them and window seats and amused themselves by playing the alphabet game in sign language. I just want to go back for one moment and hug those people, kiss them, hold their hands one more time.
Because now, things are so different. Now we have younger generations rounding first and other generations warming up in the bullpen, and older generations walking slowly out onto the field in the bottom of the ninth. And I just sort of want us to all be in the same spot again..in the seventh inning, stretching our arms to the heavens and slowly swaying against each other.
Cause it's one, two, three strikes you're out at the old ball game.