He’s 13 now, and we’ve had catches in the spring most years that he’s been able to hold a baseball in one hand. Well, maybe with the exception of those two years we lived in Alaska. I think maybe the weather kept us from having a real catch until technical summer.
We lined up with my back to the grill, where I could sneak over and turn the chops in between throws. He was out toward the southern fence.
The first throw hit my glove right in the palm, where the leather is thin, and your palm can really feel the contours of the ball.
It popped, loudly, with that pleasurable sound of leather on leather that sound equivalent of the smell of fresh-cut-grass or peanuts or cheap beer and hot dogs.
I like to write on Saturday mornings before two thirds of the kids are awake.
It’s quiet, and I love the solitude minus the occasional interruption from the 9-year-old daughter who likes to ask me complicated questions about life when I’m trying to concentrate.
Last weekend I curbed my imbibing into a manageable martini and a couple of beers and woke at 7 a.m. on Saturday morning, a good two hours later than my weekday schedule.
I settled into my comfortable writing spot on the couch, curled my legs under my body and hoisted my laptop atop my thigh to begin to work on a writing project that is currently in the creative stages but about to enter the dreaded editing and second re-write stage.
My phone rang around 8:30 a.m., about the time I was due for a short green tea break.
I didn’t recognize the local number, so I let it go to voicemail.
I picked up the phone a few minutes later and saw that the person had indeed left a message.
“Hello, my name is redacted, and I’m here with your son. He got lost from his running group, and he’s shivering and cold.”
I was listening to my son tell a story last night.
It’s the one where he gets arrested in Northwest China, along with a bunch of other young people and his grandparents, my mom and dad.
He loves to start with the line, “Oh, yeah, I got arrested in China.”
“What?” His younger brother asked, skeptically. “Why didn’t I hear this before?”
“Maybe because you run off to spend the weekends with your friends every chance you get,” his mother said, disapprovingly from her end of the dinner table.
That little interruption aside, Cole launched into the story, perhaps the sixth or seventh time I’ve heard it, but more likely approaching the 50th time he’s told it since he traveled to the remote region of China with his missionary grandparents last summer.
Somewhere between my pre-school preacher years and high school, I came down with a bad case of stage fright.
I remember taking my first speech classes in college and being simply terrified of the crowd. I tried every trick in the book, and I even took an acting class to try to learn to be more comfortable with it.
My father is a preacher.
I am most certainly not.
So when CHIRP’s Julie Mueller approached me about doing the CHIRP’s live storytelling and music series called The First Time, I tried to think of every excuse why I shouldn’t do it.
Chicago is, perhaps, the world center for live storytelling right now. There is not a night of the week where you can’t find a themed storytelling event in any part of this city.
The first breasts I remember seeing as an adolescent child belonged to a Finnish woman who was sitting across from my brother and me in a sauna in the bowels of a Swedish ferry that was carrying us across the Gulf of Bothnia.
Though I was raised in Europe until the age of 7, my parents had moved our family back to the United States, where nudity was relegated to hidden colonies and Playboy magazines.
We visited friends in Austria on that same trip, and they invited us down to the local swimming pool for an afternoon in the water.
To our astonishment, the two teenage girls in the group disrobed in front of us, quickly pulling on swimsuits in a practiced and efficient manner.
They were not the least bit ashamed, but my brother and I, red-faced with eyes cast directly at the ground for fear of getting caught looking, took the time to find the bathrooms, where we changed into swimsuits as modestly as we could.
What was natural and normal to me in Europe had become a great mystery to me in the United States.
On Thursday, around our dinner table, I couldn’t help but think that my kids are becoming really great liberals.
If liberals means they espouse a political ideology founded upon ideas of liberty and equality.
We discussed the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, the State of the Union address, the economic impact of falling oil prices and, of course, school testing, a topic they are all too familiar with and opinionated about.
As I listened to each of them make a case for or an argument against some aspect of our discussion, it dawned on me that they have become what I had hoped they would.
Thoughtful question askers.
I was fast becoming a Young Republican at their age, bent on making my worldview, the one I had fashioned as a second generation immigrant, work for me.