I sprint in the front door, drop my schoolbags and make a beeline to the phone. Fumbling it in both hands from sheer excitement, I dial the number I dial every day. “Hey buddy,” a pleasant voice greets me.
“Dad, where are you?” I ask quickly.
“My day was fine… and how was yours?” he asks sarcastically— a pause and then he replies, “Alright, I’ll be home in five minutes.”
I grab two freshly-oiled baseball gloves, dash outside and run down the steps to the curb. It seems like ages until he arrives, and to pass the time I play catch with myself, getting my mitt loosened up. My mind goes blank and I focus only on the now.
As soon as we arrive at the field, I remember what I have in my pocket and produce a crumpled red and white bag of DAVID brand sunflower seeds. Dishing out a few, and then on second thought, a few more to my father, we walk to our usual spots.
My father pulls his cap down, spits out a few shells and crouches. “Okay,” he yells, “Gimme everything you got!” I gaze into his mitt, feel the seams of the ball and start the windup of my fastball. I imagine it scorching straight into the glove with a satisfying smack. In actuality, I send it sailing fully seven feet above his head. He realizes little action can be taken other than a quick prayer to God and a resigned toss of the mitt overhead.
I soon find myself sweeping through the brush with my glove and free hand. This search uncovers nothing. The ball is in with dozens of others lost over the years, in an underbrush so deep that it had engulfed a four-foot hurricane fence. Somehow, we never figured out that baseball did not mix with short fences and English Ivy.
But why do we do it? What compels us to keep going out day after day, losing ball after ball? Only one thing can describe it and that is the blissful pursuit of some kind of perfection— a perfection only felt by loved ones and only shared by those with deep connections.
When we are outside in the fresh air having a game of catch, my father and I can speak our minds. We have had many a “guy talk,” getting things off our chests that could never be discussed at the dinner table. There was no thought of the future and no expectations— just a ball, a mitt and a best friend.
In some parts of the world, it is a football, a soccer ball or even just a bundle of rags, but the connection is the same. Fathers and sons united by a common bond, partaking in the same kind of communion. I believe in throwing the ball around.
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