The Dodger game was so painful last night it is hard to explain. Felt like watching a relationship die. You kept feeling stupid thinking it would come together, but the reality was it was broken. Yes, I am talking about the bullpen. I know that was heavy. Thing is, it feels that way for me. It is April; the beginning. It’s the time of year where I start fighting my instincts and remembering what it is to be patient. I remember why I love this game more when I hate what I am seeing on the field.
I get a text from an old friend from long ago. He’s a smart guy, about to become a doctor. I can’t remember the last time we were around each other, but we had a lot of fun in our honors English course in high school. He never gave me too much shit about how dumb I tend to appear on the surface. I always had a quiet respect for this guy. We once went to a playoff hockey game together before college started and it was a blast. Later, we ended up living in the same dorm at USC (he was studying smart people things, I was showing up to film classes half drunk).
Anyway, when he bounces out of history off a satellite into my phone I commit to finding a way up a few levels to find him. He texts “WHISKEY” to me. I figure he must check the blog out or maybe he just reads minds or feels the same way about the devil in a barrel. The noise of the stadium vanishes as I am in a corridor waiting for an elevator with a chef carrying a huge pastry rack. We nod to each other. Still not sure why.
The elevator is excruciatingly awkward with a family complete with children. I try to make eye contact, but they scare me. I love kids, but these ones scare me. Can’t really say why, they just do.
The reserve level brings me back to college and sweaty summers spent up here with the skyline and a shirt sticking to my chest. Memories of trying to drink a beer before it went lukewarm in my palm. Memories of sending text messages out hoping someone would answer me with a pathway out to some other place that made more sense where I could be happier or at least the most interesting person in the room. Like that time I left a Casablanca themed Christmas party in a Humphrey Bogart white tuxedo and pomade slicked hair and found my way to Cat and Fiddle to meet my friends who were simply enjoying a beer on a Thursday night. I had a big head from getting my first bonus check and the knowledge that I would not have to check in with anyone. I was alone in the city in a slick white tux looking strange and out of place and somehow at the same time completely at home. This city gets me every time.
I find my friend and I meet his girlfriend. We catch up. He tells me about Cuba and his medical career. I spout off about a lot of things he may or may not care about, but it is really good to see him. I get the sense he’s seen a lot of things and it makes me happy. This is what it is all about, if there is such a thing. All the pitfalls of my celestial mission become worthwhile when you get a conversation with someone you have managed to reconnect with after all the twists and turns of this existence, especially one like mine. He tells me about brewing beer and someone behind me hands me a piece of an orange from their backyard. I am not even sure I like oranges, but I eat it and decide I’ll continue to reevaluate that opinion. It was pretty good.
We make our way to the concessions and I buy him a shot of Maker’s and we find a view of the field. I love being up high at the ballpark. We talk about who we still know from the old days. We lift our plastic cups and pour whiskey down our windpipes. A quick handshake and the expression of hoping we meet up again soon and I am off taking the long way down to the field level.
I am a little recharged. There’s a bit of a bounce in my step. I am accepting the speed of time again. I am accepting how much is changing and how many people come and go and come and go and I feel so far from lonely it is a little light on top of a hillside. We’re all running in circles so you never really leave. I think I am outlawing goodbye. It’s gonna be see you around from here on out.
A high school girl smiles at me as I float off the escalator and do a spin move around a man twice my size. She is not used to people who don’t give a shit how they look. That is my secret when I am at my best. Just to stop caring at float on the wind for a bit, just to give your legs a rest. You won’t always have the barometric conditions to coast. You need to take advantage when you are given one.
We have to leave early. My father has to get home to pack. I find myself in the car with the end of the game on the radio as I groove around the empty streets. This is my Los Angeles. I am fueled by the thought of what this summer could be. Even if the Dodgers keep blowing it as they do now, I am excited by the moments it seemed like they wouldn’t. Casey Blake’s double was a foot from being a home run and ending the game. Instead, it is not enough and we die two innings later. It is enough to try and enjoy the moment where you thought it would work out. Even better, enjoying the thought that a foot is the difference between two completely different outcomes. It puts your decisions in perspective. You can’t allow yourself to miss out. Not this summer. We’re going down with a fight, my friends. There’s just too much to look forward to.
Watch your step, Lost Angeles.