I finally got called.
I’ve been trying to hook up with a softball team here for the past few months. I couldn’t really commit to the full season because, in the beginning, I didn’t have a car and there was the issue of an ID card that I couldn’t seem to figure out. (What’s wrong with these strict Oregon leagues?)
Yesterday at work I got called. Or rather; emailed.
The subject line read: “Short women – can you sub tonight?”
You bet your white ass I can.
I prepared myself to meet new people, stretch out my arms, track flies and launch scorching flat balls. I was indescribably nervous driving on 26 West out to Beaverton for the late game.
Ah, to be the new kid again.
No one knows a thing about you. You don’t know a thing about anyone else. I was scared out of my freaking mind. It struck me how, as adults, we don’t do these things as often. We don’t place ourselves in new, challenging social situations until we’re forced to by a move or other fact of having to develop new social networks.
We did it all the time as kids but we’re ot as flexible as we age.
I promised myself that I’d be fine. To relax. To just roll with it.
And in the end?
Well, we got neatly crushed as I learned that I was subbing for a B team that had been pushed up into an A league against their will. It was painful to take the beating and it was so bad that I only got up to bat twice (they buried me in the lineup as they were unfamiliar with my stick). I split the night and came out at .500 with a sizzling rope down the left field line at my second at bat – I even managed to score one of the two points that we ended up with.
We must have lost by 16 at least.
But that’s missing the point, isn’t it?
The point is that I played softball. In Oregon. And walking out into that massive complex was like coming home. All variety of athletic, aggressive, competitive, super-skilled women milling around me, walking with intimidating shoulders, speaking in tongues that only the hardest of the hard core can hang with.
It made me miss Coach with a deep, hard ache. It made me miss my girls even more. My softball team in San Francisco had been a kind of family. A group of people who knew an important part of me better than anyone else, who loved me in a different way than anyone else. A place to be challenged, supported and rewarded.
The team I subbed for is a tight group. By the end of the game they had warmed up to me and I was bantering back and forth with the best of them. I dove for a low fly in right-center and came up empty but I have a nice scrape on my knee to prove that I was at least going to get an A for effort.
We drank beer afterward even though it was nearly 10:15pm when we finished. Hefeweizen with lemons – softball beer.
They aren’t my old SF team and they never will be. No one ever will be. But they sprinkled me with softball love and welcomed me with open softball arms.
I felt an important part of me waking up. I drove home and sipped Jack Daniels on the front porch, amazed at what the sport can do to me – how it can change me inside and remind me who I am and what I want.
I feel good.