Monday, April 09, 2007

Cookie Cutter Romance

Chad at Redleg Nation said something about going to RFK Stadium when he lived in DC (prior to having the Nats) and commented on how much of a dump it is, and yes, I’ve narrowly escaped bolts, chunks of concrete, and other falling debris on at least three occasions. I responded about how at least every seat is a good seat there, unlike Riverfront Stadium, where the players looked like ants. It got me thinking about the House that Pete Built and the games I spent in Peanut Heaven.

I remember how difficult it was to walk up those steep concrete steps in the red level. As a kid, I could easily swing under the railings that went down the middle of the narrow steps as other people passed, but it was tough to climb those cement mountains with little legs. I sat up there often but never minded, for going to a Reds game was the most special thing we ever did, even better than Kings Island. My school used to give away free ticket vouchers to kids who received straight A’s, so that was an annual thing for my sisters and I. The tickets were way up in the sky – I have vivid memories of birds soaring below us. Number 44 was often below us, too – at least a tiny replica of him!

Remembering the red seats makes me a bit sad, because it is no longer possible to labor up those concrete steps, and I have to rely on memory to envision the climb. I suppose a little of the sadness has come to the surface of my mind in the 3 games I’ve seen at RFK this season. I am very conscious that the games I’ll see at that dump this year are the last ones ever. I’m reminded of that magical 2005 season when no one could get enough of Nats baseball, but to me, it reminds me more of my summers in DC.

Of course, 3 seasons of watching baseball at RFK are nothing compared to my childhood at Riverfront, but I still appreciate the finality every time I ascend from the bowels of DC, pass the Armory, and catch my first glimpse of the giant white bowl of a stadium. It’s why I’m taking so many photos of the place – I don’t want to rely on the faulty camera in my mind when I look back at my summers in Washington, which have come to be defined by Nationals baseball. The day is coming (too soon) when I will no longer be able to sit in the pink/maroon/purple seats eating my cold hot dogs and cursing the non-existent beer vendor in section 458.

You know what, though? All of the problems with RFK don’t matter a bit, because when the stadium is finally imploded and some overpriced condos are built on top of it, I’ll look back and laugh with fondness at the lack of amenities, because memory has a curious tendency to romanticize even the bad aspects of the things we love.

No comments: