The best day of the year

I put the car in park and quietly killed the engine. As I stepped out into the world, a blast of cold air met my unprotected face. I pulled the hood of my sweatshirt over my head, guarding myself against the wintry conditions. The falling snow had declined, but the winter sky remained a drab gray. In the distance, I saw that a layer of white dust covered the green grass. The undisturbed field was a welcome sight, a setting of purity that we were preparing to corrupt in a truly magnificent manner.

I proceeded to the trunk and removed my glove. It felt stiff from lack of use, but a tremendous level of comfort overtook me as I slipped it onto my left hand. Memories flooded into my mind as I examined the worn laces on the tip of the glove. I purchased it in December of my freshman year of high school, as I desperately competed for a spot on the varsity baseball team. Later that year, I learned what it meant to be a baseball player. After a loss eliminated our team from the playoffs, I stood on the top step of the dugout and silently watched a group of seniors a few feet away. In their eyes, I saw the intense disappointment of a tough loss, the dejection of knowing that this portion of their life was complete. It was a moment that would drive me every time I stepped onto a field. This recollection and many others came and went in the seconds after I put my hand in that glove. It had often provided me with a sense of security at times when it was so easy to feel vulnerable. It had also presented me with heartaches, distressing moments that I can still vividly recall.

I trudged onto the snow-covered blades of grass, admiring the tranquility of the abandoned park. A baseball field in January is a quiet place, and I found the stillness extremely peaceful. I turned and received a baseball for the first time in 2008. I returned the throw and electricity streamed through my body. We repeated the exchange in silence, speaking only through the language of ball and glove. Each time the baseball slammed into my palm, I was reminded of how little padding remained in the old glove. There would be some swelling later, a feeling I had become accustomed to over the years. I reached back and fired, the adrenaline making my arm feel stronger than ever. The distance between us slowly increased, and after awhile our throws began falling short of their marks.

After 30 minutes or so, we made our way off the field. The baseball was damp from the snow, my right hand numb from grasping it. I set my saturated glove in the trunk and we departed. I have no idea when I will throw a baseball again. But for one day, for 30 minutes, all was good.

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