Great ballparks I have forgotten

I recently took this picture at Oracle Park in San Francisco. Mark and I spent a fun evening there, watching the Giants play the Diamondbacks. The Giants won, by the way, but we weren’t there to see the 10th inning victory. We left around 9pm to head back to our hotel, due both to a really, really early flight the next morning and the fact that we were freezing in the stands. Mark Twain said something along the lines that the coldest winter he ever spent was summer in San Francisco, and I agree!

(By the way, don’t ask me why the Coke bottle appears to be poised to pour its contents into a baseball glove. Happily, those contents are actually two long slides, which looked like lots of fun. Alas, riders must be 14 years of age or younger. I’m still a little bitter about that.)

I didn’t grow up loving baseball, but I certainly married into it. Our wedding vows included the usual bits about sickness, health, and being richer or poorer, but I’m pretty sure someone also mentioned runners first and third and nobody out. And our daughters were raised going to games at stadiums across America, where they bought ridiculously expensive caps and learned to score a game properly. Never say we didn’t raise our kids right.

So over the last 37 years and change I’ve attended a lot of games in a lot of parks. Please don’t ask me which parks; I don’t remember. If you really need to know, talk to Mark. He keeps a list on his phone of the parks he has been to and the ones he still needs to see. He also has a list of bands we’ve seen, for bonus points.

I suppose I should be annoyed or concerned or sad or something that I can’t remember all of the parks I’ve been to. Our society places a premium on remembering, and for good reason. Knowing your name and your address and where your car keys are makes life much simpler. Too, having a good memory is essential for important life activities like the bar exam and pub trivia nights. And having recently spent time with a dear friend who is experiencing memory loss drives home how tough it is for all concerned when the brain fades. I get it.

At the same time, I think it’s possible to remember too much. We have all known people who can’t let go of old injuries, perceived or real. Of course, some traumas, such as abuse, linger in us in ways that are not easily put behind. But when you’re still visibly angry over an insult hurled at you in 1976 by someone who has been dead for over 30 years, a little constructive forgetting might not be such a bad thing.

This might apply to nations as well. I’m thinking here of a teenaged girl from Kosovo who lived with Mark’s aunt and uncle for a year during high school. This was during the most recent war in the Balkans. We invited uncle, aunt, and exchange student over for dinner. The girl and I chatted for a while, and finally she said to me, ”I feel like I can talk to you. I want to explain what is happening in my country.” Flattered, I told her I’d like to hear what she had to say. She straightened up from her teenager slump and started, ”It all started in 1389 at the Battle of the Field of Crows….” Honestly, I was too stunned by her opener to comprehend much of what came next. This girl, who was maybe 17, should in my book be thinking about school and friends and dating and university, not invasions 600 years in the past. I know I don’t understand what it’s like to be Serbian. But I do understand what it’s like to be a pretty carefree 17, and that’s not it. Sometimes you can remember too much.

Then, too, trying to gather everything you do into your memory can rob you of enjoyment of the present moment. For example, at many of the concerts Mark has on his list, we’ve stood next to people who spend the entire performance fiddling with their phones to get the best video or the perfect still photo. Enjoying the music and the fellow-feeling of being in a crowd at a concert gets lost when all you see is the lens of your own phone. Taking one picture and then putting the phone down may leave you with fewer memories, but it also allows for greater enjoyment. Pleasure, here and now, surely counts for as much as a photographic record of your experiences.

So I have no idea which ballparks I’ve been to, or who pitched on a given night, or which team had the best uniforms and concessions. But I do remember that I love Mark, and he loves baseball and me (not necessarily in that order), and that we’ve loved our times together at games. This is enough for me. I hope it is for you, too.

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