Tuesday, December 13, 2011

why I am reading a book about baseball

Game Six was given to Claudio by one set of parents - I don't remember which - a couple Christmases or birthdays ago. He never read it, because once he met her he stopped reading.

He was the smartest person I'd ever met. And without any of the posturing and defensiveness so common among those with whom I'd gone to college (and of which I was thoroughly guilty as well). He never pretended he knew everything, and learning new things was an utter delight for him. My favorite activities with him were going to museums and watching documentaries, because the expression on his face when he had just learned something new and fascinating was why I fell in love with him. He read non-fiction books at twice the speed I do, and retained the information far longer than I as well. 

And then he met her. And every minute not spent talking to or texting her was a minute wasted. And there was no information in the world more interesting than how she spent her day, and how she was the coolest person everywhere she went.

You may say this is normal, that this is how infatuation affects people. But when I walked into the coffeehouse to meet him for our first official date, when we were already completely smitten with each other, I was able to stand near the door for a good five minutes watching him read the book he had brought with him. (Yes, this was in an era before smartphones, because we are old, but nonetheless.)

It would be one thing if loving her made him a better person (no, actually it wouldn't; I try to be a good person but come on). But I will never understand his claims that being with her made him feel alive and happy and full of potential, because I do not understand a world in which you can only feel alive and happy by losing all curiosity about said world. Falling in love with her made him lose his curiosity, his wonder, his desire to learn. It made him stop reading. 

He is a child of New England, for all that he spent most of his adolescence in Europe, and so he was always the Red Sox fan. I come from a place where there are no professional sports teams of any genre, so the passion of the New Englander for his / her teams was all new to me when I moved out here. I found it endearing, and gradually I fell for the operatic drama of the Red Sox as well. It helped that when I first arrived here, they were hopeless underdogs. But oh, 2004. No one slept. I hugged complete strangers in elevators. DAVE ROBERTS. It was glorious.

Naturally my interest waned slightly once they were no longer losers, although I kept watching (baseball is good in that you can read and watch at the same time). We went to Fenway Park for our first wedding anniversary; there was a four-hour rain delay and we didn't care; we just talked and laughed and eventually watched a good game, and on the walk back to where we'd parked we stopped in a bookstore. 

I don't know if he will remain a Red Sox fan, or a Patriots fan. I can't imagine his new mulleted, PBR-drinking crowd would look kindly on such an uncool predilection. On something that might induce someone to display unironic enthusiasm.

I will probably keep turning on the television during the baseball season, and having it on in the background while I read. And I will keep learning things, and reading books that are slightly out of my comfort zone, even if they're ones he left here (except for the ones that are in French or by Lenin). Because I have nothing to prove. I am all about unironic enthusiasm.

What breaks my heart is not losing the person he is now. That person is someone I don't know, and if we met now he would not glance twice at me, unless he overheard my muttered, "Seriously?" about the girl he's ogling, with pants up to her armpits, glasses frames down to her jawline, and "don't speak to me unless you have toured with three bands no one's ever heard of" stinkface. That person is not for me, nor I for him.

I mourn deeply the fact that the person he was simply doesn't exist any more. Because that person, regardless of his love or lack thereof for me, was pretty awesome. He was smart, and funny, and enthusiastic. He always cared a little too much what strangers thought of him, but he could have outgrown that if he'd tried. If he'd kept learning. If he'd kept reading.

It's a waste, really. That's all I can say about it. It's a waste.

1 comment:

  1. What a strange experience to mourn the loss of someone as if they are dead when they aren't. I guess it depends on your definition of "dead."