Recently, I was telling my best friend K about my outings with my "Imaginary Friends", as I call them, and she sat back, thought for a moment, and then said, "And all these people have been talking about how the Internet meant people weren't going to talk to each other anymore."
Someone should look in to the sociological phenomena of baseball and the Internet. Surely many of the connections I am witnessing in my own life are indicative of a larger change in the social fabric; if you think about it, the Internet is a wide-open fertile soil for the formation of new groups that might never have met before due to geography, and baseball is among the most talked-about subjects in our country. Baseball is both seed and fertilizer to those strange and random connections.
Take, for example, the fact that the other night, Kristen and I sat with Marianne at the Coolidge Corner Clubhouse watching the game, and discovered that though she went to a small Catholic high school in central New Hampshire and I went to a large public school in Massachusetts, she and I had a crush on the same guy at one point growing up. That's right; a guy she went to high school with went to the Summer Youth Music School (SYMS) at UNH-Durham with me about ten years ago, and I followed him around like a puppy dog for most of the several weeks I was there. He was even in my voice studio.
What are the odds not only that a girl from New Hampshire and I would have the same crush--the same anything, really--and that she and I would ever know about it? Think about it: ten years ago, I thought a guy was hot (me? never). Fast forward to 2004, and I start talking to this girl online who's read my sports blog, and about a year later, she and I are hanging out together watching a Sox game over beer. And it so happens this guy from ten years ago comes up in conversation while Marianne looks back and forth between us in shock and awe.
Some people think Kristen and I knew each other "from before". In fact, we've had to correct this assumption with more than one person on separate occasions. I don't blame them, though; sometimes I forget too. That's the magic of the Sox and the Internet.
Another example: tonight found me outside the Cask and Flagon beneath a lit-up, but quiet Fenway Park (our view was basically of the picture above), sharing beers and discussing, among other things, the Boston sports media, St. Louis Cardinals fans, Edgar Renteria, Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling, Keith Foulke, Edward Cossette, Alex Belth, Surviving Grady and the differences between French and Italian cuisine. All of this while Lansdowne Street, for the first time in my experience, stood deserted except for eighteen-wheelers rumbling by full of gear of the upcoming Rolling Stones concert at Fenway.
We stayed, talking and talking over beer until the waitress finally came over and timidly explained to us that she was going to be cashing out for the evening, so could she take our check? For two hours, I sat with a woman from Cincinnati, new to Boston, whom I've never met before in my life, and we had endless things to talk about. What's at the root of Pedro's often psychotic behavior. Whether or not Manny is actually a deep person. Edgar Renteria's rocky career so far in Boston. The entire blogging phenomenon, and the way people have come together in a way that suggests they were meant to be together from the start.
"I'm sitting here, looking at Fenway Park," she said at one point. "I can't believe I'm sitting here right next to it."
She took a sip of her beer. "I could come down here every day if I wanted to."
We held a moment of silence.
Later, as we were leaving, Sarah ran, excited, over to the fence on the bridge over the Mass Pike, and looked out over the train tracks, talking excitedly about the time Manny hit a home run there.
We stood with the world rushing by under our feet. Fenway's lights beamed over the rooftops.
"I wish I could do it," Sarah said. "I wish I could hit a baseball that far. I wish I knew what that felt like, just once."