104 Stitches to Freedom

Apr 142002

Any Jimmy Buffett fans in the audience? I need to start this week’s offering with a favorite passage of mine from “Changes In Latitudes, Changes In Attitudes.” Trust me, it relates.

“I took off for a weekend last month just to try and recall the whole year. All of the faces and all of the places, wonderin’ where they all disappeared. I didn’t ponder the question too long; I was hungry and went out for a bite. Ran into a chum with a bottle of rum, and we wound up drinkin’ all night.”

Such was the story of my weekend. Only, instead of a bottle of rum, the old friend I ran into had with him a baseball glove. And instead of drinking, we wound up playing catch for the next half-hour of our lives.

Playing catch is one of those male-bonding experiences I don’t believe many females understand. It’s right up there with having a beer together. Could a pair of grown men have a conversation without any beverages involved? Sure. But it just wouldn’t be the same.

Something about that beer makes a simple conversation an event – a time and a place where looking back, catching up or just yucking it up can all play ball on the same proverbial field.

This is what playing catch did for me. Like Jimmy, I had taken off for a weekend to think. So many “real world” concerns were bouncing around upstairs: When’s rent due? How come I haven’t heard about that internship yet? Am I really going to be a senior? Did I really need that second tostada? (OK, MOST of them were real world concerns.)

The point of it all: Here I was, a just-turned 21-year-old college senior to-be attending a high school baseball game and I was jealous.

I was jealous of the players, jealous of their innocence and naivete about the world in waiting. I was jealous of the game, jealous of its simplicity and the beauty of a 6-4-3 double play. I was jealous of the uniforms, jealous of the camaraderie and unity they stood for. I was jealous of pretty much everything, right down to the tans everyone but me seemed to be getting.

Just then, my old buddy Jeff came strolling up, offering salvation in the form of a ball of twine covered by leather. You know that Sublime song, “40 Oz. to Freedom?” For me, this was 104 stitches to freedom.

We threw short toss and then long toss, mixing it up with fastballs, curveballs and change ups. My worries about the world began to disappear, one pop of the glove at a time.

We talked of past victories and past defeats, of brilliant plays and bonehead moves. Talked about that girl back in sophomore year, and the homecoming dance that just didn’t work out. We also talked about days to come. He’s added a second major, I’m still praying to land an internship. He’s looking at living on his own, I’m doing some freelance writing work.

It was simple conversation between old friends. But more than that, it was peace of mind high-priced therapists couldn’t have dished out.

Turns out, the real world isn’t quite as daunting as I once thought. And that innocence and simplicity I thought only existed with the young really isn’t that far out of reach after all.

There will always be stress and there might not always be relief.

But sometimes all it takes is a ball, a glove and a Jimmy Buffett lyric to soothe the soul. I like that.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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