I was driving home today over the dark roads while the sleet kept on coming down, my iPod merrily shuffling songs, and all of a sudden one of my favorites came on, a mass choir singing a gospel tune. Though I am quite emphatically not religious, I love a great big, clapping, shouting, swaying gospel choir and a rolling piano. It lifts my spirits; it makes me smile. My favorite of my gospel choir songs came on as I was driving home, and listening to it, suddenly I could feel sunshine. Not in the Jesus-loves-me way; I just felt warm and happy, listening to the music.
For whatever reason, the song and my uplifted feeling started me thinking about the Red Sox. I thought of Papi's follow-through and Schilling pumping his fist and roaring in triumph and Varitek slapping the ball back into Keith Foulke's mitt after a save. I thought about Fenway Park and that smell it has, a smell I'll never come up with the right bouquet of words to describe. I thought about Fenway Park right now, under the snow and sleet and ice and mud, thought of it lying dormant there, people trudging by on Lansdowne Street under the Monster. I thought about Bus Day and Ft. Myers and fresh-faced young pitchers kicking the dirt on the mound, trying out for a shot in the big club. I thought about batters stepping in and out of the box. I thought about pitchers nodding at the signal carefully, staring in. I thought about Joe Castiglione saying "The pitch."
And then all of a sudden it hit me like a swift kick in the gut. It just knocked the wind right out of me--baseball homesickness. That's how it felt. Like all the times I've been pining for home while somewhere else. I had smiled, thinking about seats in the bleachers on a warm August night, but now--now it was like a roller coaster had dropped me back down. I felt my stomach plummet as I drove by the frozen river.
The feeling--almost as soon as it came on, it went from pleasant to painful. It hurt. I'll admit right now I just about cried, coming to a crunching stop on the salted road at a stoplight, wishing I'd never thought about baseball at all.