The phone rang late last night, someone who knows I do not sleep early calling to talk about the baseball game I had missed, or
had decided I did not want to Go Back There, to the land I had no idea I would so completely vacate a few years after 2004 — except for the year of the Marathon bombing, when it was only right that Boston win the World Series.
I paid no attention to baseball when I was a child. My older brother was for some unfathomable reason a Brooklyn Dodgers fan, down to his blue jacket; my dad was a Red Sox fan and it never crossed my mind they didn’t win World Series after Series but beyond that I had no interest in baseball until I was in high school, waiting tables at the Narragansett that Impossible Dream summer of 1967.
The Red Sox won the wild card slot last night. I’m not going to give it any more thought other than being grateful I was paying attention to it at the start of this century, had been paying attention since I recovered from 1986, enough that I knew many of the players by 2004.
And at that point I left my keyboard and went to find a gift from one of my oldest neighbors, from that winter following that 2004, a dvd — I’ll always have a dvd player — “Faith Rewarded.” I’d just put it in the player and have background noise from the other room while I wrote. Then I’d watch a few minutes and sort of listen and go back when it was near the end. Of course, I was ensnared. From the end of the 2003 season to the duck boats in the Charles River.
It wasn’t just the narrative of that summer, including the usual long summer slump, it was thinking of a cousin who lived out in one of those Big Ten states where football ruled, telling me baseball wasn’t even a sport. I didn’t even blink before replying “no, it is a religion back here” because back then it was. I wrapped it into Peter Pan and Tinkerbell drinking the poison.
We needed only believe to make it true. Odd to think back in 2004, I was channeling Peter Pan, asking the children of the world to clap to show they believed in fairies to bring Tink back to life, but I was tempting fate sending out an email blast with only the word “Believe!!”
Some people might not have been living around here back then, may not have been carrying the burden of decades into
that fourth game of the World Series in 2004, and might have watched that dvd wondering about the guy who said, as he woke his sleeping children for the ninth inning, he had a flash of concern that he might be scarring them for life with a devastating loss.
It was an incredibly sweet time, when no one under ninety had a sound memory of the Red Sox winning the World Series and suddenly, after eighty-six years, there was a regional collective moment. The dvd reminded me it was so cross-generational, from long-time fans and long- retired players to children like those shaken from sleep by an excited dad.
Yes, the Red Sox won the wild card slot, or in more local terms, the Yankees lost it. It is still a long way to the World Series, and if things follow true to form I’ll have forgotten all about baseball by the time this column is printed.
It is October, alternatively beautiful, sunny and blue and dry, and miserable, gray and wet. I’ve stopped looking at the forecasts, after following it carefully the other day and getting caught in a downpour that was supposed to be drizzle.
I looked back over past years, wondering about the weather, finding a variety of narratives all about weather changing.
Then this from the year Autumn was one, still chomping anything of hard plastic I held in my hand, a cell phone necessitating a trip to the Verizon store but recalling Benny’s when we thought it would be there forever.
The computers in the Verizon shop in Wakefield run more slowly than my dsl (when Verizon still acknowledged a difference between dsl and high speed) at home but mission finally accomplished, I went on to Rhode Island institutions, first the CVS where things have been rearranged. I have not been away since
June and had forgotten. The difficulty in finding the most basic items was annoying – someone else from Block Island said “I don’t have time for this!” - and they did not even have the kind of hairbrush I wanted, another Autumn casualty.
And so I fled to Benny’s, soothing as coffee milk (and really, what are all these fancy milk-infused beverages that have become so popular if not glorified coffee milk, Rhode Island just happened to be way ahead of the curve on that one).
The simple red names in plump script is familiar, the omnipresent tire sale signs comforting. The aisles remain aligned, without fancy reshuffling certainly intended to create a better experience and in the process make shoppers pass by things they might not otherwise notice, much less buy. Vacuum filters are where they have always been, and the cleaning supplies as well. A very practical friend once referred to Benny’s as her department store of choice.
Best of all, there was a truly helpful salesman who explained the variety of a product I should get for Block Island where the sun and the sea are in the very air. He could sell me what he had but I really should go to another store for something more appropriate to my circumstance.
Benny’s seems to plug along, despite the formidable competition, perhaps because they do not hesitate to send someone down the road for what they really need. The store is in its ninetieth year the ads tell us.
We did know what we had before it was gone.