Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Once in a Lifetime

"I'd like to thank the good Lord for making me a Yankee." - Joe DiMaggio

You don't get many chances to witness history. To experience something you may never experience again. To cross something off your 'bucket list,' if you will. So you have to recognize the opportunity when it presents itself, grab the moment, and capitalize on your good fortune.

I started my day pretty much the same way I've started every other for the past 18 months... shower, dress, breakfast, bus, work. The only difference was the nervous anticipation with which I was consumed for what I had hoped, and silently expected, to be the clinching victory for a Yankees World Series championship later that night. Quiet confidence. Cautious optimism.

Then it happened. A phone call that appeared to be like any other. It wasn't even a phone call for me. It was a co-worker's phone that rang. I didn't even pay attention it. I wasn't even listening to the conversation, even though I was sure it had something to do with the show we were both working on. I didn't even hear him put the person on hold. Then he asked me the question that changed my day, my mood, my life.

"Do you want to go to the game tonight?" Yeah, right. I answered honestly. "Only if the ticket is free." I have refused to enter the abomination that is now called Yankee Stadium if I have to pay my way in. I am a stubborn traditionalist who refuses to be gouged by the team he supports. "Yeah, it's free," my co-worker answered. It was a no-brainer.

I had no clothes, no way home, no place to sleep, no money in my wallet... but I also had no choice... I had to go. This was it. This was my shot to witness the Yankees win a World Series in person. To cheer and chant and scream until my throat hurt. To celebrate with the team and with the fans and in the Stadium, however much it is barely a reasonable facsimile of the original, lacking the charm, character, and history of the sad relic that now stands across the street.

And while for the first time ever, I got no goose bumps upon my entrance into the Stadium, I will forever get goose bumps thinking about what I saw, where I was, what I did. Dancing in the streets of the Bronx with tens of thousands of other fans. High-fiving police officers as they celebrated with us while on the job. Experiencing in person what I have watched on television four times before in my life - the other four times I can recall the Yankees winning the World Series in my lifetime (1996, 1998-2000).
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But it could have been better. I still wished my wife would have been there. Not necessarily because she wanted to be there. She didn't. But because she is the one who makes things like this possible for me. She is the keeper of my dreams. She's the one who doesn't require me to ask permission when something like this comes up. She helps me make it happen, without even giving it a second thought. She's the one who packed me a change of clothes and lugged it into the city for me. Who took on our cold-fighting daughter without me that night.

She has played an integral role in the best three nights of my life: our wedding, the birth of our child, and now Game 6 of the 2009 World Series.

That is why reliving the celebration the next evening with her and my daughter, through the magic of DVR, was even more special. You never get a second chance to experience something that may only come up once in your lifetime. Actually, apparently you do.

The Peanut watched with more obligation than interest as she nibbled on a cookie. She said, "Yay 'Ankees" a few times leading up to the final out. Once the initial celebration on the field commenced, and the novelty had worn off, she realized she had better things to do. "I'm going to go play in my playroom," she announced. And off she went.

You can be sure I will revisit Game 6, 2009 ad nauseum with her in the years to come. Not only the game itself, but the spirit of jumping at a chance you may never get again, despite the fear of failure. Failure in this case was knowing how angry, disappointed, and tired I'd be the next day if they were to lose. I've said throughout the playoffs that operating on minimal sleep is a lot easier after a victory. But that would have been a small price to pay for a shot to witness history.
She also needs to know how important her mother is to my happiness, our happiness. I think she knows this already, actually. But how incredibly flexible and understanding she can be despite her best efforts to be the most anal person on the planet. That her mother is now a Yankees fan and cheered for them despite her geographical and familial links to Philadelphia and the Phillies. That keeping harmony in her house, keeping her irrational and sometimes insanely fanatic husband happy is more important to her than anything else.

She needs to know how lucky we are to have her mother, how you need to pounce on luck when it smiles upon you and make the best out of it. And how lucky we are to be Yankees fans.

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