Today was one of those days that we all look forward to. I got to just run off an do something special–something to get away and make myself feel better. As the glow subsided, CRASH.
Now, full disclosure: this wasn’t exactly a “just run off” situation. I planned this months in advance (in fact, starting about a month before Micah passed away). I ran on a tight budget–room covered by Hilton Honors points, airfare pretty cheap (roughly $200 RT–at the cost of a night’s sleep and a long trip home), two Cubs tickets, a cheap Priceline car rental and a little over $100 in expense money. However, in light of Micah’s death and my wavering ability to deal with it, the timing was more-or-less perfect.
I got into town this morning at 6am Chicago time on a red-eye flight from Phoenix. Despite sacrificing a good night’s sleep (substituting in a few brief naps between 7pm Sunday night and lunch Monday), I felt pretty awake and excited about how the day was to unfold. I had lunch with an old friend from high school that I had not seen in about 26 years. I layered myself for a cold evening–four layers including my old Wolves winter coat: long sleeve t-shirt, long-sleeve thin thermal sweatshirt, Cubs jersey and coat, grabbed the camera, and headed over to the River Road Blue Line station for the trip down to Wrigleyville. I took a couple pictures on the way, but did not really feel the pressing need to document this particular trip to Wrigley.
I arrived at the doorstep of Wrigley Field around 3:30pm, about half an hour early for my brief meet-up with another friend and fellow Cubs fan that I’ve been tweeting back-and-forth with for over a year. The first thing I noticed–as silly as this may sound–was not a change to the ballpark, but to the surrounding community. Ever since my brother first dragged me to Wrigley Field in the Fall of 1984, every trip to the Friendly Confines since–probably well over 200 of them over the past 31-plus years, started with a stop at the 7-Eleven on the southwest corner of Addison and Sheffield. I’d go in, get a quick chili-cheese dog and a Slurpee or Big Gulp and either bring them into the ballpark for lunch (back in the day when such things were allowed to be brought into the park) or sit in front of the 7-Eleven with my brother, or wife, or friends, or just myself to have a bite to avoid spending tons of cash inside. If I was meeting someone at Wrigley, we’d meet in front of the 7-Eleven. It was part of my ritual. And the first thing I noticed this afternoon–the construction fencing in surrounding the now barren, signless carcass that used to be my 7-Eleven. I guess this wasn’t worth as much fanfare as a few weeks back when they officially closed the McDonalds on Clark just across from the Wrigley Field media parking lot for demolition to make way for construction of a new hotel. Sad…lots of memories at that 7-Eleven…
I decided to spend a few minutes walking around the perimeter of the ballpark, taking a few more pictures for my collection. Notice the beautiful ironwork around the new Clark Street façade.
Turned out that as I leisurely toured the outside of Wrigley Field, I missed my early opportunity to meet up with my Twitter friend… I wound up meeting up with the friend that I would be enjoying the Cubs home opener with, and into the ballpark we went.
As I snapped a few more pictures, we talked about everything from baseball to music to digital cameras, a common interest that I had no idea that we shared. It was a fantastic night. We talked baseball, faked play-by-play and color commentary, suffered through almost seven innings of the Reds young starter no-hitting our beloved Cubbies, and were elated when the Cubs got their first hit (yay Grandpa Ross!), when J-Hey singled in the Cubs first two runs, and then when Addison Russell played hero, launching Jumbo Diaz’s first pitch into the left field bleachers for the eventual game-winner. What a night at the ballpark!
After the game, I had a brief chance to finally meet my Twitter Cubs fan buddy, and then went up to the dueling piano bar at Sluggers to hear my friend play. A nice capper for a great night!
I walked down to the Belmont Red Line Station to begin my trek back to my car, and eventually the hotel. As I stood waiting on the platform, a huge wave of loss hit me. This was an experience that I will never get to share with Micah. And the feeling came flooding back. I spent the long L commute back to nearly O’Hare lost in thought about Micah. Everything he meant to me–means to me. Yes–I was listening to Hamilton. “There’s a million things [he hasn’t] done, just you wait.” Except now, there’s nothing to wait for. There is nothing else Micah will do. The million things he hadn’t done–the things that would help him make his name as a teenager and an adult–now to never be fulfilled.
I sit here in my hotel room at 3:20am (Chicago time) just trying to get my mind to stop racing with thoughts of Micah. I think the fatigue is finally overtaking me. The day was great, the night greater, but now the wee hours of the morning painful.
The good news is that I’ll be spending lunch and the early afternoon with one of my long-time best friends. I’m hoping that will work to pick up my sagging spirits…