I haven't gotten a good night's sleep in a week.
Well, no, maybe that's not the best way to put it. While I haven't gotten a good night's sleep in a week, I haven't wanted to get a good night's sleep in a week. I've always kind of viewed sleep as an inconvenient but necessary waste of time, a time during which you have to accept a level of zero productivity so that you can recharge your batteries. It's an energy thing. But for the last seven days, low energy has hardly been an issue of mine. I've been wall-to-wall wired all day long.
I haven't needed a good night's sleep in a week.
I've tried to go to bed at a reasonable hour a few times, but it hasn't worked. I'll take a shower, dry off, crawl under the sheets, and close my eyes, but then my mind starts to race, and try as I might to shut it off, once it gets going there's no slowing it down. I'll lie in bed and, even with my eyes closed, I'll see it. In vivid picture, I'll see the game. Branyan going deep, Soto striking out, Ichiro catching the final fly - and celebrating - anyone will tell you that my memory sucks, but when I go to bed and close my eyes, everything is playing in the theater of my mind as if it's happening new all over again.
So I'll lie there, awake, watching the game and smiling about it, and, realizing that I'm not about to fall asleep any time soon, I'll get out of bed and come back to the computer. Not because the computer is my entire life, mind you, but because the computer is home to eBay and the MLB Online Shop, sites that have recently become my top two preferred browsing destinations. See, I didn't realize it at first, but over the few days following the Mariners' win, it occurred to me that I had to get my hands on every collectible I could find. Both because this was such a long time coming, and because who knows when this is going to happen again?
My Ziploc bag of Game Five Safeco dirt came in yesterday. I put it on the desk next to my team-signed World Series program and my 8x10 shot of Ichiro leaping into the air. There were shots of Clement, Lowe, Beltre, and the whole rest of the team celebrating, too, but I like the Ichiro one the most, just because it's so entirely uncharacteristic. You don't need any understanding of the context in which the picture was taken in order to know exactly what's going on; it's evident from looking at Ichiro's expression that this impassioned leap was nine years in the making. Nine years. Ichiro was saving up for this, and God bless the photographer who snapped the picture when he did. It's a picture that makes Ichiro look more human than ever before, and given that I assume everything Ichiro does he does with a plan, I can't help but wonder if this was his own little way of acknowledging the fans who stuck by him and the team during some unthinkably difficult seasons. Captured by the image are not a thousand words, but a thousand cheers and a thousand memories, and a thousand happy faces with smiles in their eyes.
FedEx says my cardboard cutout of Shelton pouring champagne down Yuni's pants is due to arrive in three days. I don't know where I'm going to put it, but right now I'm thinking roof.
Anyway, eventually I'll get enough shopping done for one night and go back to bed around three or four, my alarm set for seven. But where you'd think that would be torture, each morning so far I've bolted to my feet before my brain knows it's awake and gone about my business refreshed and relaxed, the way people tell you you'll feel if you sleep for eight hours but you know you never do. I don't know why it's been working like this. Maybe those three or fours hours a night are more potent when you're the happiest you've ever been, or maybe I don't have much to recharge when I sleep since I'm too ecstatic to get stressed during the day. But whatever the case may be, there's no arguing with results, and since the Mariners clinched the World Series, I've been walking so light on my feet that I feel like I could run around the city.
It's funny; every day since it happened I've had different people congratulate me on the championship. Friends from home, friends from abroad, coworkers, even acquaintances I haven't spoken to in months or years - it's like the Mariners' victory triggered something in people's brains that made an alarm sound off "Jeff! Talk to Jeff!" So they've talked to me, and congratulated me, as if I were in any way responsible for the outcome of the series. It's not like I just had a kid or got into grad school. I just happen to root for a team that, unaware of my unhealthily fanatical devotion, won the World Series. So maybe "congratulations" isn't really in order. More appropriate would be something like "hey good for you" or "does this mean you'll be less of a bitch all the time now?" But I accept their words with a laugh and a thank you. I don't really care that much, though. More interesting to me is the number of people about whom I'd forgotten who contacted me to say congrats. How did they remember me? Why did they remember me? Why did they remember that I'm a Mariners fan? Was it that obvious? Are the Mariners all I've ever talked about? Is it obnoxious? When they talked to me to say "congratulations", were they really doing it as a joke, like "congratulations, since we all know you're a Mariners fan"? I hope I've never been that annoying about it, although I wouldn't be surprised, since I don't really know that much about anything else.
Every day since the day they won, I've worn a Mariners jersey. Not the same one - I own both a Felix and an Ichiro - but one of the two, in alternating order. People are probably getting sick of it by now, but for me, it's not even close. When I wake up and go to the closet to look for something to wear, there's no question. It's not a button-down day. It's not a sweater day. It's not a t-shirt day. It's a jersey day. Again, it's a jersey day. I'm sure over time I'll revert back to my usual dress, but putting on the jersey just feels so right, you know? People who care a lot about clothes always suggest that you wear something that makes you look good so that you feel like you look good, which gives you confidence, but for me, the last thing I'm thinking about when I'm walking around all proud in a Mariner jersey is how I look to other people. Ordinarily I'm a vain, shallow man, but these days I don't feel good because I look good - I feel good because HOLY SHIT THE MARINERS WON THE WORLD SERIES and wearing a jersey acts as a reverse forcefield that prevents thoughts and memories of the series from escaping my body. As long as I'm wearing a jersey, I'm still living in the moment. Why would I want to stop living in the moment? I don't care if the moment is a week old. The moment is awesome.
So awesome, in fact, that I can still feel it, that I can still reproduce it in my mind. I've never been very good about being able to remember my first anythings, but this one - this one's stuck. I don't care how that makes my first girlfriend feel, because winning this World Series was far more incredible than she ever was. All I have to do is sit or stand motionless and think of the ninth inning, and within a few seconds, I'm replaying the final out, and the team piling on top of one another, and the Safeco crowd shouting louder than a train whistle. And as all of that's happening, my body is flooded with the same endorphins that took me over a week ago. I don't know how much longer I'll be able to recall the last inning so vividly, but I think about it so often now that it may never go away. Which I guess could be dangerous, since the endorphins provide one hell of a rush, and I don't want to develop an addiction to my own memory. But then, there are worse addictions.
I wonder if it's always like this. If it's always this magnificent, or if subsequent championships provide diminishing returns. In the event of the latter, is it irreversible, or do, say, 5-10 years without a title act as a reset button in your brain? Are seasons even that fun after you win it all? I'm curious. On the one hand, you'd think that nothing could compare to your first time winning the Series, but on the other, if you look at teams like the Yankees, or Canadiens, or Lakers, each of whom have won a whole bunch of titles, all of them have rabid fanbases, and you have to imagine that they wouldn't be so if winning started to be less enjoyable, or if you started to take it for granted. So I can't say. All I know for now is that this past month has felt amazing, and we'll see where we go from here. The road forward may be unfamiliar, but where once we looked to a light at the end of the tunnel, now the light is behind us, lighting the trail ahead.