—Ian Hunter, Wash Us Away
So there we were at the Stadium yesterday, eating our NYY steak sandwiches in the concourse while the Yanks were on their way to getting swept by the Rays. Not a good series for the Bombers, and not much to say about it. They’re pretty beat up right now. The Rays are running hot. We’ll see how things play out later on.
If you’re a Yanks fan these last couple of games weren’t fun to watch, but don’t ever believe there wasn’t magic going on at ballpark. Because nothing else can account for the four of us sitting there together over those sandwiches, me and my wife and Judi and Anthony, celebrating a birthday, and an anniversary, and a friendship improbably renewed after many long years.
All those crazy years ago, decades now, Judi and I weren’t thinking about baseball. Jumping over candlesticks on the streets of Bensonhurst, we had all kinds of other things on our minds. Tell us back then that we’d be sitting together at a ballgame with our spouses someday, bemoaning the Yanks' injuries, yelling at the TV screen near the table we’d grabbed, with Judi pronouncing the name Cervelli the way it's supposed to be pronounced . . . I can guarantee, we’d have been swapping glances and wondering if you were nuts, dangerous, or maybe dangerously nuts.
And then the river took its twists, like the song goes. I wound up in one place, and Judi another place. But there’s this thing about people from the neighborhood. A writer named Vincent Patrick wrote about it once, kind of made a joke about all those people from outside the neighborhood who talk about growing and growing apart and leaving the people they care about behind just like that. Like they’re old shoes or something. Outgrowing someone's for other people, insists a character from Patrick's novel The Pope of Greenwich Village.
If you’re from Brooklyn, and you’re talking about somebody you were seriously tight with, you get the humor. The river takes its twists, sure. Yet the bond’s there. You might never see that person again, never hear the person’s voice again, not even have a clue where in the wide world this person might be, but it is there. And if you’ve somehow found a good shore for yourself, you hope and pray from deep in your heart that other person found one too.
Life, love, marriage—the river took its twists. Many, many of them. And neither of us a clue where the other had made our separate landings . . . though I still can't figure how it is that Judi didn't Google me, for crying out loud.
Be that as it may, you had to know the Yanks would play into this somehow. Turns out Judi and her husband have a partial season ticket plan at the Stadium. So happens that their plan’s identical to one of my partial plans. Well, okay, there’s a slight difference. Our seats are in one particular section, and their seats are a section or two over and maybe a couple of rows away. Our seats weren’t anywhere close at the old Stadium, but when they moved us to the new one, and relocated us, somebody plopped us down within peanut bag-tossing distance. Who would’ve thunk it?
Now that I know they’re there, I can look over my shoulder during the seventh inning stretch and see Judi and her husband standing together, and smile one of the smiles that works its way out from deep, deep in the heart.
And there we go, Jude. You found your good shore. And I found mine. And it turns out that the river didn’t take us so far apart after all. That its long, winding course eventually brought us, twist after twist, turn after turn, across a wide span of time and distance to . . . what? Twenty feet from each other? Twenty-five, maybe? Close enough for us look over our shoulders, and see one another with our life partners, and smile. Close enough so there we finally were yesterday, Suzanne and I, you and Anthony, out in the concourse having a toast to your wedding anniversary, and his birthday, over sirloin steak sandwiches and beer.
If I tell you those two ran into yet another pair of friends who have a cabana next door to them at Breezy Point, and who happened to be passing by on the way to their seats on the other side of the Stadium, and wound up joining our little celebration you probably won’t believe me. So I won’t, even though it happened.
The Yanks lost. Got clobbered by the Rays. Five games back in the standings with a ways to go.
I’m not worried. The river always takes a twist. And I know the Stadium magic’s going full force.
Sometimes it just works in unexpected ways.
For Judith and Anthony
Follow Jerome on Twitter all season long at @YankeesInk