I am late for the bus, like usual.
On the way out the door, jacket unbuttoned, I grab the first hat my hand meets and throw it over my unkempt hair as I rush out the door. I don't realize that it's my Mariners hat I haven't worn in a few months, and I feel a little foolish being that SuperFan!® who won't leave the house without donning his team's licensed logo on at least one piece of clothing, but whatever. No time. The frosty doors of the 14 line bus shut behind me just in time, and the cool 7 AM air is replaced with recycled carbon dioxide and windows tinted with fog and condensation.
Now I'm reading the newsfeed on my phone--the latest Jacoby Ellsbury rumor, something about Lloyd McClendon or Shin-Soo Choo--and I realize that the words are just kind of passing on my phone's screen without entering my consciousness in the first place. No. Instead, I'm thinking about how I'm going to be moving in a year, of my wife's grandmother in the hospital, and how I'm getting older and how life changes faster than it allows us to keep up with it. There have been hundreds of mornings just like this, riding the bus in to school or work. But there have been hundreds of other smaller moments I may never get back, disappearing after they first reveal their faces and share themselves with me: weddings, passed relatives, moments with friends and family long gone like a streak of chalk poorly erased on an old chalkboard.
I continue to scroll and then I see a link to a video on YouTube. I can't even remember what it was, but it was probably something really stupid like a baby getting knocked over by a dog or a drunk college student in London trying to eat pizza (look it up, seriously though, it's great).
I click the link and it opens my YouTube app, leading me to my saved videos section where I find two videos that I really don't want to link here, because anything I would say about them has already been said. These two videos, broadcast by ROOT Sports in the winter of 2010, show a lot of things: the ballpark my favorite baseball team plays in, the faces of players of seasons and eras gone by, and four extremely difficult minutes of Rick Rizzs breaking down in tears and collapsing into the arms of Jay Buhner, Dan Wilson, Ron Fairly, and Edgar Martinez.
I don't want to link to them because you've already seen them, three years ago. But I also don't want to link to them because that's not what this weekend and the memory is about.
As I look out the window of the bus passing the Hawthorne Bridge, I begin to think about the city I'm going to move to in a year, the town I'm going to leave. I think about the 26 years spent here and all the little stupid things that I can't take with me when I go, and I revisit them as if they are happening for the first time all over again. But then they pass, a moment of memory materialized that can never be again. I think about the little things--baseball--the stupid 13-inning games that last until one in the morning, Hector Noesi blowing a late game lead, Eric Wedge grabbing Milton Bradley by the jersey and dragging him back into the Safeco Field dugout.
I remember where I was and I realize that I'm carrying all those stupid little moments in my head with all the others, and that change doesn't mean that you need to forget what came before, and while you can't take it with you, they are wrong because you actually can.
I think about Dave and I think that he never got to see the Mariners make the World Series. Dave never got to see Taijuan Walker or Felix's perfect game and then I realize it doesn't really matter because Dave got to see a lot of things, and he was there--he was always there--and even though I'm going to see the Mariners win, I would almost rather hear him say those three words on my radio in the attic when I'm ten again. And I realize that I can, I can do that. I can hear them again, I can live them again, I can carry them with me.
I crawl up to the counter and dig through my wallet, one eye shut and the other half open, desperately begging for caffeine. I grab the two crumpled bills and look up to the guy wearing a green apron and a smile as big as my apartment who is somehow awake and in a good mood at this early hour and I mumble something like yahhhhgranfedarkroasdcoveypeas but he understands and gives me my cup of coffee.
He sees my Mariners hat and as the liquid energy hits my lips he starts up a conversation that I am neither ready for nor wanting to have.
Ah! Mariners fan huh?
Yeah, I guess, I reply. Next year's the one, right?
He laughs, steaming a cup of milk and responds, If we keep saying that, it will eventually be true! Statistics, man.
I'm not sure that's how math works, but I am also terrible at math. Still, he continues,
Ichiro getting the gold glove again this year?
It's way too early to even start that conversation, so I just say You never know! and walk out the door, wishing him well.
I realize then, though, that he's doing it right--he's loving every second of baseball that he watches and even if he doesn't know that Ichiro lives in New York, he's going to have a damn good time watching the Mariners in the playoffs someday, and even if he doesn't know Dave's name, he surely knows his voice. We shared a bunch of little moments in our lives, connecting over something as silly as The Star Wars Throw in a game where adults wear matching outfits, but it's a connection none the less. I realize that I'm afraid of change and I'm afraid to grow up, but I've been growing and changing over the years watching this team, and even after their progenitor left on November 10th, 2010, they kept moving forward and I am going to be fine.
I think back to those depressing videos on YouTube, and I then I think about all the other ones that actually have his voice on them. Ichiro's throw, The Double, the grand salami thing that I always thought was corny as hell but actually loved at the same time. But out of all of these moments, the one that wrecks me--every damn time--isn't even from a game, isn't even from an interview or a particular memory locked in time. It's a silly commercial the Mariners play every spring filled with Ken Burns-ey images dyed in a yellow haze, filled to the brim with near-absurd levels of saccharine sentimentality that somehow works even though we all know how over the top it is.
See, some intern or production assistant knew that the voice narrating us through this commercial wouldn't always be with us, and while we have clips from important moments in this team's history, the voice feels trapped as if it were a black and white picture hiding in a leather photo album in the attic of your parents' house. But here, the voice is freed from its temporality, released every spring as if it were still with us, or at least reminding us that even while we change and leave him far behind, he doesn't leave us.
It's corny, it's a little sappy, but it's Dave, and he's there in that video like he never left. He isn't here to see Taijuan Walker and whoever is going to be in the starting outfield in 2014 or what Lloyd McClendon is going to do. But in a way, he is here. In a way, he knows. Man that's a corny video. Stop making me cry.
I walk into work and realize that I just spent the last forty minutes having this ridiculously overblown emotional reaction to life and change and this and that, and all the time I was really just thinking about baseball. Tomorrow will give me plenty of time to go back to complaining about giving Kendrys Morales a lot of money and reading about catcher defense metrics. But baseball can also be this stupid, abstract, touchy-feely thing, and today, that's what it was for me. And for that, amdist a billion other things, thanks, Dave.