Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A Connecticut Yankee in David Ortiz’s Court

I found my first Boston apartment the day the Red Sox won the 2013 World Series.*

The previous days had been a clinic in urban logistics. A combination of cars, buses, trains, subways, new Boston connections, and future in-laws led me to finding the perfect apartment to start my life as a Massachusetts resident.

I never anticipated an apartment hunt would include this.
I ended up having dinner with the future Mrs. Hardball Heart’s mother and grandparents after her father ending up scoring tickets to the game. Truth be told, I helped hire my girlfriend two years ago at my previous job, so neither one of us would have envisioned me having a beer with her Nana Shirley on my own.

I didn’t see the Red Sox clinch their first World Series at home in more than 90 years. I fell asleep on the couch opposite my girlfriend’s mother during the game. I woke up sometime in the seventh inning, and decided my darkened guest room at the far end of the house would be a much more suitable place for a Yankees fan to endure the inevitable. My girlfriend, bless her heart, didn’t wake me up after celebrating as close to the field without being on it until the early morning hours.

Boston’s victory wasn’t nearly as painful as their championships in 2004 and 2007. The next morning, I traded texts back and forth with my mother on how our despair was eased with the knowledge that my late Uncle Pit was in his glory somewhere. Uncle Pit also left behind his brother Bee, a man who gladly took over his duty of calling my mother after every Red Sox win. I heard a lot of teasing in French during the four months I lived at home, and heard more than a few curses with every wager my mother lost. As expected, Bee didn’t waste any time in needling her. However, because of the love we have for those two men, my mother and I were celebrating on the inside more than we’ll ever admit.

My girlfriend and I at Fenway Park for the team's Mariano Rivera tribute.
My father, who had resigned himself to the fact it was the Red Sox were a team of destiny far earlier than the rest of us, said that the team had “stepped in shit” all season.

“They don’t go on long losing streaks, they figure out ways to win close games, and they don’t make any mistakes,” He said on more than on occasion. “Basically, the opposite of what the Yankees do.”

Despite the agony of watching the Red Sox celebration, my family admires and upholds the values the team triumphed with: hard work, perseverance, and an unshakable faith in the people around them. I despaired for humanity when David Ortiz finished third in Boston’s recent mayoral race, but couldn’t suppress a grin seeing Ortiz and his teammates ride duck boats around the city during the World Series parade. I do love me some duck boats.

Of all the places I thought I'd say goodbye to Mo in person...
Now that I call Boston home, I’ll have to live with the public exuberance that comes with winning a major sports championship. The hot stove may come with plenty of issues for the Red Sox brass, but nothing eases tense player negotiations like winning. I won’t even be able to take solace in the coming of spring because of the inevitable raising of championship banners and distribution of World Series rings. I also now work on the side of the Prudential Building that overlooks Fenway Park. It ruins a perfectly good view of the sunset that is getting earlier each day. I can’t help but think of my Uncle Pit chuckling every time I’m confronted with the green walls that I’ve despised for all my years.

What I can rejoice in is that I chose to live in a city where I walked the Freedom Trail with my father in the sixth grade, enjoyed beers and Bob Dylan with the Brothers Ford, and spent the summer falling in love with.

I hope to enjoy Boston Commons again when the weather warms up in August.
My father is concerned I’ll turn colors, in large part to maintain my personal safety. Despite the fact my beautiful girlfriend can be pretty persuasive, that will never happen. The Yankees have meant too much to me and my family that to abandon them after one bad year would mean I’d be turning my back on everything I’ve built and believe in. My twenties were a war; it’s time for peace.

I started watching Cheers roughly a year before I ended up moving to Boston. I finished the series not long after this picture was taken. Best tourist trap ever. 
I moved to New York City a year after September 11th. I had the honor and privilege of witnessing, and contributing to, a city rebuilding itself without losing any of the qualities that made it special and strong. Bill Maher got into trouble recently for saying “your city wasn’t leveled by Godzilla” in response to Red Sox players placing their World Series trophy at the starting line of the Boston Marathon as a tribute to the bombing victims. Setting aside for a moment that Anthony Weiner appeared more human than Mr. Maher, I couldn’t have been more disappointed by comments from a New Yorker. As I found myself once again a transplant in a city shrugging off the aftermath of violent extremism, I could think of only one thing when I saw that Red Sox jersey draped over a World Series trophy on a hallowed stretch of asphalt:

This is my city. I love it here.

* Watching the Red Sox win up close was such a traumatic experience that I’m just now able to write about it.

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