Today, I stepped up to the plate for the first time since you hit it out of the park, rounded third base, and slid into Home, Safe.
It was weird to step out of a squatty white sedan meant for grown-up me instead of the blue-grey van that knew the parking lot of this odd combo of batting cage and mini golf hub like no other.
It was weird to know that, before I even walked across the small wooden bridge arching over the place where the same sunken golf balls probably still sit, that everything on the other side is the same, too. The mint green wannabe Titleist sticking out like a mermaid’s pearl in the deep barrel filled with purples, reds and blues. The ice cream freezer that was my only incentive for coming all those times with my brother. The clink of the golden tokens being handed to my mom from behind the cash register. Even the same bats sit in the community locker, rust still in the same places.
I open the door, and the song that greets me is like a nod from you from behind the plate, squatted down to be my catcher, confirming that I can do this, that you’re there, rock solid, that you’re ready and waiting to catch me.
So I step out of the safety of the car, onto the pavement, and straight up to facing the new normal, the ultimate Yankee to my Red Sox.
I step out from the cage having conquered my childhood fear for the first time. You’re still teaching me from up in the Halls of Fame; I used to be scared of the ball coming too fast, or missing my chance, or the loud, mocking smack it would make when it hit the padded back wall.
But today I was encouraged to squint into the sun with a smile, be patient, and just keep my eye on the ball.
And I didn’t.
Thank you for always championing this girl at bat. For all the swings and misses and epic strikeouts I’ve had in my life, you have become my greatest grand slam.
I can’t wait for the day when I step across Home Plate and you get the honors of dumping the celebratory Gatorade on me.