I’ve spent many a summer in London. I’ve enjoyed a spring or two in Paris. I’ve had the pleasure of a few overnights in Cabo San Lucas, San Diego, Rapid City, Grand Canyon, and Disney World.
Of all the places my feet have walked, I am always happiest on my mini-vacations, my afternoons in the sun, at the ballpark; specifically, Coors Field. The only place I feel truly free.
Seriously, it’s personal. The ballpark is the one place that gives me permission to abandon all the things “grown-ups” need to worry about on a daily basis and be a kid again – blatantly discarding even dietary regulations – even if only for a few hours. It starts with the singing of the National Anthem. Standing proud with hand over heart, “…o’er the land of the free…” a smattering of applause, whoops and cheers, “…and the home of the brave.” Full tilt merriment, clapping and the announcer declares, “Play ball!”
I sit with my husband and my children, 10 rows up, third base side behind the visiting team dugout; sun beaming out from behind the occasional cloud, a comfortable 80 degrees, water bottle in one hand, and hot dog in the other. Thousands of people sit here on this balmy afternoon, united in spirit for one common goal. I take a deep breath in, elated. I am free from the windows that need washing at home, the clients that need calling at work, the oil needing changing in my car, the electric bill due, the laundry needing to be done, the dishes filling the sink. All of it is forgotten for one beautiful afternoon watching the boys of summer.
Top of the first, we get our first look at today’s starting pitcher and that basically sets the tone for the whole game. At this point, for me, win or lose is irrelevant. Just being here, smelling the acrid flavor of buttered popcorn, the pungent aroma of spilled beer, the dust, the chalk, I feel exhilarated. Peanut and sunflower seed shells are dropped like confetti up and down the aisles, the music plays between each batter, fight songs and “make some noise” orders splash across all the neon signs. The whole row of seats in front of us remains empty; perfect ottoman for my feet. Settle in, game on.
By the middle of the 7th, I realize my daughters have not uttered one single complaint. They have been celebrating the small victories and booing the little losses all the way though with me. They may not as interested in the outcome as my husband and I but they are on board and content none-the-less. “Please rise for the performance of God Bless America by Mrs. Johnson’s sixth grade class.” Thirty little people with pressboard perfect smiles nervously assemble in left field, harmonizing the classic while every spectator sings along using the words displaying on the jumbo-tron. “…from the mountains…” a small eruption of cheers as we happen to be nestled snuggly at the base of the Rocky Mountains here in Denver. “…to the oceans white with foam…” another small eruption as we are playing a sea side resident team. Tears fill my eyes with pride and love every time I hear that song, this time is no different.
“Take me out to the ballgame…” starts without missing a beat, we sway back and forth, belting this one out with little regard for the fact none of us can sing. We have spent the afternoon indulging in hot dogs, pretzels with cheese, handfuls of peanuts, but when the snow cone guy comes around, we figure the damage is already done so we spring for the treat for the girls but choose to wait for the cotton candy guy for ourselves.
The sun has descended to a comfortable low behind the giant stadium walls casting a cool shadow upon us. Slight breeze, noticing a slight sunburn on my thighs; I remembered the sunscreen for the girls but obviously forgot myself. Top of the ninth, our team leads by three, two outs, full count, thousands of people remain united, standing for the final out. Pitch, swing and a miss, game. The cheering crowd applauds the home team, gathers belongings and forms the lines up the cement stairs towards the exits
Holding hands, single file, up the stairs, through the gates, out to the streets back to the car, the little realities of life start creeping back into my thoughts. As soon as we get home, I will throw a load of laundry in, unload and load the dishwasher, makes lunches for tomorrow making sure it is something healthy after the piles of junk food we had today, check the schedule for the mechanic tomorrow to drop off the car on the way to work; the list seems endless. Freedom. It was lovely while it lasted.
About the Author: Working as a Tax Accountant in Golden, Colorado, Sheryl Ricigliano enjoys spending her free time with her husband and children, traveling America on summer roadtrips and writing. In November 2012, one of Sheryl’s short stories placed 7th in the ‘Mainstream/Literary Short Story’ category of the Writer’s Digest 81st Annual Writing Contest and in January 2013, one of Sheryl’s non-fiction works will appear in the publication of ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul: Angels Among Us’.