At first I thought I was being overly sentimental. This is a real fear I have; showing too much emotion, feeling too much emotion. Maybe it's because every time I expressed a feeling a member of my family would call me, "dramatic." I always thought that was so unfair and so funny, me being the "dramatic" one. I mean, have you read Alex's book? The criticism stuck though, and now every time I feel something I question its legitimacy. But I've been to a half-dozen ball games since my brother died, and I'm starting to notice a trend: I feel uncomfortable everywhere that is not my house with the exception of Wrigley Field.
I've been trying to go out, to accept invitations and make myself rejoin the world, to give myself a reason to get dressed up and say more than the handful of words I exchange with the clerks at Whole Foods. I go through the motions of getting ready, meeting friends, ordering drinks, blah blah blah, in hopes that it'll eventually feel normal again. It does, sometimes, but more often than not I feel like a fish in a bowl, the glass distorting the view as I look out onto a world that's familiar, but out of reach. I feel disconnected from people, and every time someone asks, "How was your summer?" I retreat back into myself a little more. I don't want to tell acquaintances or someone I just met that my brother died a couple months ago, but as they stand there and tell me some boring story about their work or a recent vacation, I find myself wishing they knew so they'd shut the fuck up about their bitchin' camping trip already.
That's not fair of me, I know. Other people's lives don't stop just because mine did. It is no one's fault my wires frayed, leaving me unable to plug in to casual conversation with the ease I used to. I just currently have nothing in common with anyone who isn't in this weird grieving limbo, with people who have never lost someone so close to them, who have never experienced outer space-sized sadness, wherein you're floating in never-ending blackness that's not painful, really, but constant, and the silence in this space is deafening.
I spend most of my time feeling this way, until I enter the ballpark. Then, it's like things snap into focus. What was black and white is now vibrant color. People no longer sound like they're speaking Klingon. Everything makes sense. I know where everything is, I know who these people are, and we all have a common goal. I sit in my favorite seats and put in my earbuds so I can listen to the radio broadcast while I watch the game. I fill out my scorecard the way my grandfather taught me to. I can joke with the people sitting next to me, and ask the lady behind the counter for extra cheese for my nachos. At Wrigley Field, I am a functioning human being again. I don't know why I only feel this way there. Maybe it's because I know everyone is there to watch the Cubs and not ask my how my summer was. Maybe it's because baseball has been a part of my life for so long that it's now more of a security blanket than a hobby. Maybe it's because Alex never really got into baseball the way I did, and it's a place I can be free of his memory for a while. Or maybe it's because Wrigley Field is a place where people know how to wait for the good days to come, a place where people believe that tomorrow could be better, even if tomorrow takes 108 years to get here.
About a month ago, my friend’s grandfather died. He was in his eighties and had been ill, so his end was not a surprise, but she was sti...