It’s that time of year again, October the 18th. My birthday.
In the past, I have written all sorts of things when my birthday comes along, including stories from my younger days, of people who have been a part of my life and who have moved on. Sometimes, occasionally, these people Google their own names and find my posts and contact me, which is both rare and fantastic.
I don’t see why this year should be any different.
I am another year older. In that year, a lot has happened, I have continued to grow, to evolve – not much, but enough.
When I was a teenager, I had horrible growing pains. My legs would wake me up in the middle of the night; they hurt so bad – my muscles locking in the worst ‘charlie horse’ you can imagine x 10. When they hit, I couldn’t move except to twist and writhe on the bed. It felt like they lasted for hours even though it was only a few minutes. I kept a bottle of muscle relaxers next to the bed and would have to take them whenever these fits happened. I would lie awake, trembling, long after they ended. Sort of like riding out an earthquake while waiting for the after shocks to hit; you want to believe it’s over but you know better.
A doctor showed me lines on an X-Ray that, he said, indicated I still had a little growing to do and would just have to suffer through it. But he also said I would only grow so much and then it would be over and I would always be the same height from that point on.
How depressing, being told you would eventually stop growing, stop evolving, and just be you.
I talk a lot about comic books and tv and movies, video games – all the usual nerdy geek stuff, but did you know I also played baseball?
God, but I loved that. One year only, but it was so much fun. I absolutely loved it. I would hop on my bike and ride forever to get to my practices and games. Spend hours in the outfield getting more sun than I probably ever should have being so fair skinned. But I really did love it.
I was a decent batter, too. Still remember being robbed of a home run. I was in the Palm-Shields league (Palm and Shields both being street names in Fresno). We played on middle school baseball fields and used cones as markers for ‘out of bounds’ and the ‘home run mark’ in the outfield. I hit a ball high and far – out beyond the cones where an outfielder caught it and I was called out. My coach threw a fit worthy of Tommy Lasorda, but the out stood.
After the game, my team and I sat out in the outfield together. I don’t remember if we won or not. We sat in a circle while the coach talked. He turned a ball around in his hands, the ball I’d hit, and he passed it and a pen around the circle and had every player on the team sign their name on it. When they were done, he presented it to me as a spoil of war, a token for the home run that was stolen from me.
I still have it. I’ve tossed a lot of stuff through the years, but I keep that baseball because it reminds me of simpler times when all I needed was my bike and a circle of friends.
I think I also have a baseball card with my photo on it around here somewhere. If I can find it, I’ll post it.
I marvel at how far I’ve come from that kid on the bike to the guy sitting here writing this post, and at how much of him is still here. He liked comics, so do I. He liked video games, so do I. He liked hopping on his bike and disappearing for the rest of the day, nothing but him riding as far as his feet could pedal him, wind in his too long hair and returning home just as the sun went down, hungry and worn out. Me? I love to hop in the car and head to the mountains, camera in hand with an eye to explore and see what there is to see. Not too different.
Also – that kid? You could barely get him to do his homework, let alone write a story. Now, even on my birthday, you can’t get me to shut up with the stories…