20 September 2011

tentative "see ya later" to a second home

One of my greatest struggles in recent weeks has been internalizing the anticipation of my pending invitation and eventual departure. At this stage, I have not made the status of my application 100% public, but even if those outside of my immediate friends & family circle were made aware, I'm certain I would still be facing this challenge. The fact of the matter is that it's something I have to go through on my own, with limited exception, just as I will be on my own for a good deal of my time in country. That being said, I figured it was a good idea to start thinking out loud and, by virtue of this blog, sharing those thoughts with anyone who might tune in. Welcome to my brain.

As the window of time between now and when I might depart grows smaller by the day, those moments where I find myself doing or preparing for something that will likely be my last "such and such" for quite some time seem to take on inflated meaning. This weekend's trip to Citizen's Bank Park to see my Fightin Phils take on the Red Birds of St. Louis was perhaps the most noteworthy of such experiences thus far. 

You don't have to know me very well to know that the Phillies are the soundtrack of my summer. This has been true throughout my life, but such sentiment has fully woven itself into the fabric of my being over the past three seasons as I've settled into my Pemberton Street dwelling. Few experiences have brought me more peace in that time than sitting on my deck or roof, cold beer in hand, looking out toward a sunset over the gloriously illuminated Philly skyline, and tuning in to Larry Andersen and Scott Franzke as they paint a picture of the poetry as it plays out on the diamond. 

Sunset, Skyline, and Phillies on the Radio

As much as I believe it hardly gets better than listening to those two fine broadcasters call a game, it's pretty hard to beat taking in a game in person. Since I moved to Center City in 2006, after my apartment and my office, the one place I have spent the most time at is undoubtedly Citizen's Bank Park. Having averaged roughly 20 games per season in that stretch, and attending batting practice for most games (which means heading into the park about 2.5 hours before the first pitch), a rough estimate shows I've spent roughly 21 whole days at that stadium over the past 5 years, which could very well be a conservative figure. Simply put, CBP has been a home away from home; one I definitively know better than the back of my hand, so knowing I could be saying goodbye until at least 2014 wasn't exactly the smoothest pill to swallow. 

I was fortunate enough to make that ceremonious trip with two people who genuinely appreciate, share, and have fostered my passion for this team, this venue, and this sport. I picked up a pair of tickets to Sunday's game as part of an IOU from Father's Day, when absolutely zero professional baseball teams were playing anywhere within earshot of Philadelphia, and it turned out that my brother had also picked up a ticket to the same game. The three of us met up for some burgers and brews in the parking lot before the game, hit the gates early for a full slate of batting practice, and even got to help paint a Phillies mural that will be prominently displayed in the city some time next year (read more about the mural here).

A Trio of Fine Artísts

As I leaned on the upper deck rail behind home plate, looking out to the field that has afforded me so many amazing moments - both of the triumphs & failures that have graced its surface and those shared with so many fantastic people in my life - I said something along the lines of, "Boy, I really am gonna miss this. That's for sure." I continued to stare out as the emotion swelled up and could see Dan in my periphery, looking over at me. He said something about how it will all probably go faster than I think and I'd be right back here, in the same spot, before I know it. Ultimately, I know he's right. And if there's enough magic out there for all to go as only a lifelong fan can hope, there might just be one final date with me and the boys in red pinstripes before I go. But one way or another, despite even the anticlimactic performance by the home team, I can't imagine a better way to spend what was, at the very least, my last regular season Phillies game for quite a while in the company of my two favorite gents on the planet.

Me & the Broski
Joe the Son, Joe the Father, and Brother Dan

1 comment:

  1. Hey Joe - You remind me of when I was leaving SF for the second time to go to grad school. (the first being for undergrad) I "knew" I'd only be gone for 2 years but was at a point in my life where I had a true love for the city, my friends, and my life there. I knew 2 years would fly by but tried to do a lot of extra things at home and with my friends before I left. Well .. as life would have it 2 years in AZ turned into 6, and then when it was time for me to come back to CA I ended up moving to San Diego instead of SF. In the mean time the things I loved about the city hadn't changed. Most of my good friends were still there, and when I visited it was like I had never left. ( Aside from the crazy burst in development in certain areas!) Anyways.. now I'm at a point where I love SF so much .. but have a new life in San Diego. And that makes me love and appreciate SF so much more for the time I spent there. So anyways.. take time to enjoy all of these things that you do now. They probably won't change while you're gone, but you might change and land somewhere different after. Its great to know that there is always a place to call HOME though.