I've been a waste of space this entire week, thank you, Phillies.
I have not been able to focus on much of anything, I have been nervous and jittery, and I have caught myself more than once humming the Rocky theme. Monday evening I finally let myself get excited, only to have my World Series dreams put on hold...and then I spent the entire day Tuesday in a phog (that's right, I did spell it that way!) not sure of what to do with myself during the longest rain delay in baseball history; I was truly unfulfilled, confused, and sad. All I could think was, dammit, this is a Philadelphia team, after all...something bad is surely going to happen at the last minute and knock us all down. Again. Just like always.
But by Wednesday afternoon, I'd regained my mojo and the buzz was back. Forty-six hours after Game 5 was called on account of a seeming monsoon, I (politely) kicked friends and neighbors out of my house -- people who had gathered to talk about books, eat, and drink wine, three of my favorite things! -- so I could sit in front of the television and cheer for my team.
Then finally, last night, around 9:45, I looked at my husband and said "This is it, isn't it? It's the top of the 9th...Oh. My. God..." He ran upstairs and woke up Sweet Boy (who of course had no idea what was going on, but we weren't about to let him miss it), and the three of us sat huddled on and around the recliner. I was on the floor in front of Big Daddy, his hand clutching my shoulder, and with two outs in the 9th, he said, "Babe, you've gotta breathe...I can feel your heart pounding through your back." I had my hands over my face and my knees pulled up to my chest, almost protecting myself from the disaster that I was still sure was going to happen -- a home run, a hit batter, a freaking airplane crashing in the middle of the field! -- I just couldn't believe that we were going to actually win a championship.
When that final pitch went over the plate, I screamed a scream that couldn't be stopped. It came up from my belly, uncontrollable. My son was scared and crying, and I kept saying "I'm sorry, baby -- AGGGHHH! -- I'm sorry, baby --- AGGHHH! -- Mommy's ok, I'm sorry --- AGGGHHH!" My friends and family called on the phone and we all stood screaming together. No words. Just screaming. Sweet Boy looked on in confusion and horror, but then joined in the jumping and screaming, too. He'll get it someday.
Today, I swear the sun is shining more brightly than ever. There's an electricity in the air that I've never experienced. People I've encountered are smiling and polite -- and they all have the same kind of stupefied, I-just-smoked-a-doobie kind of expression. The one I see in the mirror, in fact.
If you've not been a Phillies Phan since birth, it's going to be hard for you to understand this mania. And it's true, I admit: We're ridiculous, I'm ridiculous, this is ridiculous. You're looking at me and thinking, really? Baseball? Who cares? And I'm sure I'll regain my senses and be very embarrassed in time. But today I'll continue to giggle and jump up and down and recount my favorite moments of the post-game coverage. (Did you see the phootage of Harry Kalas and Wheels in the press box? Priceless! These men are like my summertime uncles, and the joy on their faces nearly brought me to tears. And Charlie Manuel, who is married to baseball, speaking more eloquently to the throngs of screaming fans than I have ever seen him speak to a room full of reporters. And Jamie Moyer -- you phabulous old pitcher, you. And Pat Burrell high-fiving the people in the stands. And the sign in the outfield that said "Mitch, you're off the hook." I could go on for hours...)
I have lived my entire life simply loving baseball but really loving the Phillies -- even though I have never, ever thought of them as a championship team. (I was 4 when they won the other WS...don't remember it at all.) They've always just been my team -- scrappy and funky and working-class and beautiful in their historical shabbiness, just like their city -- playing baseball and winning a few here and there, giving us something to listen to during the barbeque or a fun July evening outing -- but never the best team. And Philadelphia has always been my city; I've said a lot recently that I'm NJ by birth, Delaware by circumstance, Philadelphia by heart. It makes me so happy to see my city, my family, my friends so happy.
I know a World Series victory means nothing in the grand scheme of life. Really, I do. I haven't completely lost my mind. But this week, this moment, it is awesome. It is bigger and better than I ever even imagined. It is all-consuming and I'm completely willing to lose myself a bit to it. Of course we'll all talk about this time for years, just like all sports fans do, and we'll recount the final game to our children and grandchildren, to be sure.
But even more, in this moment we have hope and happiness in a time so otherwise full of gloom and uncertainty. All things seem possible today. Last night when that last pitch crossed the plate, I screamed for my team and I screamed for all the dreams that once seemed so far out that they weren't even speakable. I think you know the dreams of which I speak...let's hope this high carries right on through next week, too -- and the next four years or more. It's a feeling I could surely get used to.