How do I not sound cliche when talking about how tremendously remarkable it is to be a Chicagoan this week? How do I contain myself when thoughts of the World Series makes me cry, even now, half-a week later? How do I bottle these warm fuzzies emanating from my heart, so that they stay with me forever, especially as we’re staring down the loaded barrel of the most terrifying presidential election the world has ever seen? How do I thank the Cubs for what they’ve done? How do I thank my tremendous friends, who are my family?
I feel a sense of urgency to write about my recent visit to Chicago, as I suspect the outcome of next week’s brutal presidential gun fight will not end peacefully on Tuesday, nor anytime soon thereafter. The rally cry of either losing team is going to be horrendous, horrific and no doubt appalling, continuing America’s downward orange spiral into becoming an actual reality tv show, which I will also refuse to watch, just like reality tv.
BUT OH MY STARS. Did you see that World Series??? Ten Epic Innings, One Tremendous Outcome!
I purchased tickets to Chicago several months ago, before having a whisper of a clue they were headed for greatness. By early October, I was sitting on an undecided fence, leaning towards canceling, as a run to the Midwest did not seem appropriate, nor affordable.
See, I don’t have family in Chicago anymore; everyone has either died, moved away or is angry. I must always think twice about Chicago, the place I grew up, the city where I was educated, worked and played, fell down then stood up to only fall down again, the place where my family and its familiarity once was — all things I once knew are no longer there. I am uncertain if I belong in Chicago, if anywhere at all.
Cubs in the playoffs, how cool is that, poor Bartman.
Wait, wait, WAIT A MINUTE, win this game, go to the WORLD SERIES?? As in the REAL World Series??
I jumped on Twitter — I can’t see baseball in Mexico, so Twitter’s the next best thing. Hey look! All my real Twitter pals are actually on Twitter and they’re tweeting each other! I throw out a tweet, my friends tweet back! No one tweets anymore, haven’t you heard? But right now we’re here and in an electrified state of disbelief, omg CUBS WIN HEY HEY, everyone tweets they got to get to Chicago!!
The Cubs won the playoffs and they’re going to the World Series WHAT!?
I must go to Chicago. I began to cry as memories of my youth came flooding back. My parents, uncles, cousins, grandparents — the Cubs peppered my youth; but we became numb to the salt in our wounds, didn’t we? We’re talking about the Cubs after all. The loveable losers, just WAIT til next year, we’ll really show youz guyz something! No, THIS is the year, it’s really happening.
My time living on Waveland, just past Murphy’s, please tell me they’re losing so it’s easier to get tickets for the bleachers. Right field sucks, by the way, and for the love of God, throw it back you moron. I can hear Harry singing in my kitchen, lemme hear ya now! I rarely slept while living on Waveland; I was voted most popular cousin and someone was always clawing at my door. It was. Hilarious, to say the least.
My dad took us to Wrigley more than a few times. Always two sections up from third base, my brothers and dad remained focused on game details as we chomped on hotdogs and peanuts, yet always promptly departing after the 7th inning stretch to finish the game on the car radio. God forbid we get stuck in Cubs traffic. Looking back, I think my dad was afraid of Chicago, but he loved the Cubs and rooted for them until the end of his days. He retired in Phoenix and my brothers and I went to see the Cubs play the Sox in Mesa; the Sox won and the hotdogs were lousy. Arizona hotdogs hmmmmppfffh.
My uncles preferred the White Sox, a team for the working man, the salt of the earth, with Comisky a stone’s throw away from Maywood race track. “A man can afford to take his kids and have a beer with the Sox,” I recall uncle Buzz telling me once. He took my brothers and I to a few Sox games, but most memorable for me was the Maywood race track afterwards. Kids are King!
My grandmother was a Lone Fox in her family, in more ways than one, and she too adored the Cubs in a sea of black and white hats. She would watch The Young and the Restless then tidy up before the Cubs game, which she always watched with the shades drawn, and sunglasses on. She spoke of Ryne Sandburg often, as if they were acquainted; she adored him. On a balmy September day in 1994, my grandmother Rose fell over from a brain aneurysm while watching her team; she was dead before she hit the floor. My mom was asked, “did she die doing what she loved?” Nope, she didn’t. But just wait til her next reincarnation!!
All my people are gone, but not forgotten, and I quickly realized my entire hometown was not only balling because the Cubs were gonna win today, but because of what the Cubs meant to their families and to their youth. It was a huge homecoming, and I was a part of the mad dash to O’Hare. Everyone smiled and hugged and held doors for strangers, I was never so delightfully thrilled to be home, and for a brief moment it was easy to forget about the hateful political season and enjoy the game of baseball in November in Chicago.
My week in Chicago was spent with some of the most awesome and amazing friends I tried for years to forget, because I assumed they forgot me. The girls I grew up with, the girl I got sober with, the girl I Instagram with, the girl in Texas who treats me like family, the girl from San Miguel and my little screaming Italian Aunt, who remains my hometown cheerleader, proudly displaying my Modern Farmer magazine article on her highly Lemon-Pledged coffee table, for all to see.
These women rallied around and with me, made me feel comfortable in their homes and trusted me with their pets. They included me in their family meals and made space for me to watch the game on the couch. We cried when the Cubs lost, and cheered and sang like fools when the Cubs won. Fly that W and Go Cubs Go!
I had an amazing time in Chicago and I’m so grateful to my friends and family who graciously welcomed me home, when I was certain I had nowhere to go. Thank you Pate, Noelle, Kristin, Rose, Judy, Joan and Aunt Nancy; in the words of Eddie Hinsberger, I love you all.
eddie loves you
Thank you Chicago Cubs for making it the best week in the world to be home, and congratulations on being the 2016 World Series Champions. Please pardon me for assuming you’d never get there, but thank you for proving me wrong from the bottom of my warm, fuzzy and reinvigorated heart.
Hey Chicago ya know what I say? The Cubs made me believe again. Orange is the new hate — but it will never prevail; the river is blue, faith’s been restored, the Cubs won the pennant, and I have a place in Chicago. THANK YOU.
Go Cubs Go! xx