We all know I love running (and if you’re new here, welcome! My name is Ali, I’m a Pisces, and I love running). And we all know this blog is mostly about running. So today I’m going to talk about – softball.
My entire life I have loved playing sports. But, when you took my natural ineptness and combined it with me being fat, short, and extremely near-sighted (and Ali bows her head and gives thanks to the creator of Lasik), sports didn’t exactly love me. Now, I would play anything, but I was absolutely dreadful (friends from high school are nodding and smiling. It’s OK, I already knew). I believe I am down on record as the only person on the girls’ soccer team at my high school to never start a game, even that last game of the season when they let all the seniors play the whole thing; they let me play the last half.
So, I was this completely awful athlete – except for softball. When I was a little kid, I constantly wanted to play with my older brother, who constantly wanted to do anything but play with me. When I was about 10 and Adam (the older brother in discussion here) was 13, he finally said he’d play catch with me. And after a few throws back and forth, his eyes popped open and he said, “Wow! You throw like a boy!” This was the highest compliment I could get from my brother, because I understood exactly what he meant; I had an arm. Finally, something I could physically do and not completely suck at! I continued to have catches with Adam for years, and when he had pickup games with his friends, he brought me along and the let me play (granted, right field, but I was playing ball and therefore didn’t care). My freshman year I tried out for the girls’ softball team and the very day I made the team I took all my babysitting money and traded it all in for a new softball glove.
For the next 22 years, I played softball regularly. After high school I played intramurals in college (since there is no spring in Canada, there is also no intercollegiate softball team at McGill), and then wherever I lived afterwards I always found a team to play on. The first year I lived in Boston I even snuck into a lesbian league just so that I could play (I got “outed” mid-season but they said it was OK and that our pitcher was actually straight, too).
The spring of 2005 was my last season playing softball. I didn’t know it would be at the time, but my daughter was only a few months old and life was just getting too complicated. Besides I had hit my plateau – actually about 10 years previously – and I just wasn’t going to get any better at it. Flash forward 3 years to when I started losing weight, and 1 more year after that when I had successfully lost 70 pounds, picked up running and triathlons, and never looked back.
So if I haven’t played softball in 9 years, why am I bringing it up now? Well, as you know, I fractured my foot and I can’t run or bike. I’ve tried to take it in stride, but I’m at week 9 of a 6 week recovery (yes, that’s typed correctly) and I’ve really lost my patience with the whole thing. I’ve been grumpy, irritable – oh, hell, call it what it really is – bitchy. Really bitchy. And lately I’ve been sorry for myself, as I realize that this year’s NYC Marathon probably won’t work out. When I see other runners on the street I get jealous and momentarily hope they’ll trip on their laces so that they can’t run either. If I can’t run, nobody should. Harrumph.
Again, why am I talking about softball? Here it goes: last Friday, my son Benjamin “graduated” from pre-school. I took the day off from work and went to his ceremony. To celebrate, we went out for lunch and chatted about all things important to a 5 year old. Ben is as wild about sports as I am, with the major difference being that he is freakishly good at them. So, he and I spent our lunch pretty much talking about anything with a ball.
After lunch we came home and Ben went to play in the backyard, as I nestled back into my cocoon of negativity. After a while, Ben ran in and asked if I would have a catch with him. Before I could say anything, he ran to a closet and pulled out my old softball glove. I had forgotten that I had kept it in the hopes of handing it down to one of my kids, but then gave birth to a girl with no talent or interest in sports at all, and a boy who would have loved my old glove but is left-handed (and lesson learned: gloves for lefties are an absolute bitch to find). I looked at it. That glove came into my life in 1983. My maiden name is still written on it. I smiled and took it from Ben and put it on.
Ben and I went to the backyard and started to throw a baseball back and forth. And as we did, I suddenly felt the clouds break and the sun come out. My dark mood was lifting a bit, and I knew exactly why. I was doing something that I used to absolutely love but had lost track of over time. And then it dawned on me. Yes, I am upset that I haven’t run since April and likely won’t be able to again until August. But what really bothered me is that I was worried that I’d put running aside like I had with softball and just never come back to it. But, of course I will. I have made a place in my life for running and triathlons, and that place in my life is just going to have to patiently wait to get back its running and triathlons.
Ben and I played catch outside for over an hour. When we came back in the house, I put my old glove right next to Ben’s. I wanted to make sure that it has its place.