Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Scènes de la vie de bohème

Gazing out at the contrast between the black night sky and the incandescence of the stadium lights, eyes blurred from seven innings of beer, I felt as if I were in some other world, removed from the serious and surreal life I had been living, the one where Beirut was my home and the Cosmonaut the object of my longing. I stood on the concourse with someone else, a brokenhearted opera singer from another generation, both of us obnoxious in our happy state of being. The night was intoxicating; baseball happened on the verdant diamond below but it was not only baseball that happened. I felt myself transformed from the brooding figure of recent times into the carefree, merry soul that I had been in the fleeting periods of happiness in my life.

It wasn't just the magic of baseball. Anyone who read this blog back in the days when I wrote daily posts knows I used to believe there was something about baseball that felt almost supernatural, almost divine. But then I went to Beirut and I saw the holes in the buildings from the bullets and the bombs and I felt the tension among the Lebanese when some powermongering thug or other threatened the stability in the country and I realized that baseball doesn't matter.  Or so I thought.

But as I looked into the kaleidoscope crowd, the heaving and sighing of huzzah reached my ears and I realized I had once again achieved a kind of zen and this game had brought it to me. Neon signs glowed and glowered around the ballpark and concessions wafted through the vernal air and there was a consistency to it all that I vaguely recognized as something I had once loved. I was in the political capital of the world, far removed from the lazy summer days on the banks of the Ohio, but it was baseball all the same. Somewhere beyond the parking garages and the shiny, soulless buildings that have sprung up in the last few years around the park loomed the grand dome of the temple of democracy. From where we stood, we could not see it. It was just as well. Like so many sacred things in our American lives, that temple has been sullied. So, too, has the game, with its nine dollar beers and forty dollar t-shirts and its hundred million dollar players who, if not indifferent to us, despise us. Consumption had spoiled baseball, but baseball found its way back into my heart anyway - me, a wandering, struggling writer who only wants to embrace the beautiful things in life and share them with the world.

I had a blast on Friday night at Nationals Park with a new friend. That is a beautiful thing. (Though the Reds losing is not!)

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