With four brothers it is fair to say that I would have had times in my childhood where we played ball. Yes any type of ball, you know, basketball, football, soccer ball, ping pong ball and of course baseball. I just so happen to be terrible at all of the sports ball things. I can’t catch and I can’t throw. I’m not bad at the aiming because I throw a mean dart…I pop the balloon every time. (yes, carnival dart is the only dart i’ve thrown) However, I was never what you would call “athletic”. (which is bullshit because I took dance lessons and did tumbling….you do a backflip and see how unimpressed you are with yourself)
Back to “sports ball”, my brothers tried unsuccessfully to teach me to play many of the games, but baseball was the absolute worst. I would be standing near the batter spot…is that at home plate? (I remember it being at home plate which was usually someone’s shoe) There I was and it would sound a lot like this “Okay Becki, now I am going to throw the ball and you’re going to swing it when it gets close to you.” ball comes I swing bat and ball goes past me.
“This time choke up on the bat” I push my hands up the bat (apparently to choke it) the ball comes, I swing and miss again.
“Maybe if you came closer to the pitcher…the ball is going to come in nice and slow and when it does just hit the ball gently.” ball comes in nice and slow, I swing and I miss again.
youngest brother “Three strikes….” (obviously gloating) “You’re out!”
older brother “No she gets another try.”
I was okay being out honestly…I know where this is going…everyone’s patience will wear thin and I will be in tears.
Me “I don’t want another turn.”
older brother “You almost had it that time!”
Encouraged and certain that there will one day be a book written about me and how I was terrible until that one time when I almost hit the ball and then after that I was in the baseball hero books. A large dedication to me in the baseball hall of fame with my picture and a caption underneath “All she needed was to choke up on the bat and then the rest was history”
Boom! the ball hits me in my stomach!
“Becki, what the hell are you doing?” older brother, patience almost gone.
I catch my breath and try to tell him that I was daydreaming but I had the wind knocked out of me. I wanted to cry, but no air apparently means no tears. I was a loud scream cryer too. I would cry and people all up and down the road would call my mother to ask if I was alright. I hated those calls… me to mother “Hang up! Don’t talk about me!” You know its bad when the entire neighborhood know your cry over anyone else’s.
I look up at my brother standing over me and I could tell he was willing me not to cry. I could hear his thoughts. That ball to the stomach made me have telepathy. I can hear his thoughts and his thoughts were “Don’t start screaming because I am going to get in trouble. The neighbors are all going to call and ask what happened and it will be my fault. Don’t cry, just get up and walk it off. We don’t want to go inside, Do NOT CRY!”
I laid on the ground trying not to cry like a baby and then my youngest brother pointed out that I was out. I looked at his smug little face and I remember that I didn’t want to play baseball in the first place. I didn’t cry, I got up and I stormed off. I went inside and found a book on the table. I grabbed that book and I called my black cat “KitKat” and I went to my reading spot. My reading spot was the most magical place in the world.
Deep in the woods was a tree shaped much like a V at the bottom but then the one side had two branches that met together to make the perfect sitting area for me and KitKat (he was the perfect reading partner). I climbed up to the top into the seat and looked at the book I was about to read. I was about eight years old and about to embark on the fine story of “Othello”. I had no idea where this book came from but I was going to allow it to save me from wayward balls and impatient brothers. I cracked open my new treasure and began reading. I read until daylight was gone and I could no longer see the words. I hopped down with my book, KitKat waiting for me at the base of the tree and back home we went. (the trek to and from my reading spot was not as far as I remembered it being as a child. I had quite the imagination) I walk into the kitchen where everyone was eating dinner and I hear “Where did you go cry baby?”
I took the book I was reading and I showed it rather closely to my brother and I said “We can’t all be athletic, some of us get to be….” I stumbled because I lacked the vernacular for what someone who reads far above her reading level would be. It was about to be a great come back. It wasn’t because at that moment my oldest brother realized that I was the one who took his homework book that he had been searching for all day.
“Why did you take your brother’s homework?” was the question that I had no answer for. I stood there with Othello growing ever heavier in my arms.
“I saw it on the table.” was my lame answer.
“Why did you take it?”
“I don’t know!” I now realize that my decisions were usual made in haste.
“Go to your room and think about what you have done!”
AS I was in my room I did think about what I had done. The problem was I didn’t particularly think it was terrible. I mean I walked away from a fight. I found a book to read. I spent the afternoon keeping to myself. What I had done wasn’t that terrible from my point of view. If given the options again, I’m pretty certain it was going to go down like that again. This could’ve been the moment in time when I had a clear vision that life is all about perspective and if you could just see the other’s perspective then that would make your life easier. That would make me more compassionate. I did NOT do that because I was eight. I went to my room and brushed my doll’s hair and thought to myself, “Everything I do is wrong. I can’t play baseball right. I can’t find the right books to read. I can’t even do the right thing right!”…….Do not cry for her….she is learning and learning comes when you are alone and brushing your dolls hair ferociously. (Maybe cry for my doll, though, because she had a bald spot)
My oldest brother came in with his Othello book and turned to the middle of the book where I dogeared the page and asked “Did you really read all of this?”
I looked at him and was deciding if I was going to ever talk to him again.
“Becki, did you read half of the book?”
I nodded but I didn’t look at the book. (because I’m cool like that)
“We were only supposed to read the first two chapters tonight.” I glanced in his direction and shrugged.
“Did you understand it?” this was an odd question. It’s reading. Yes I understood it. I nodded again. Then I noticed the perplexed look on his face. Then I decided to explain something.
“They have little cheater notes built in. AT the bottom of the page it helps you understand what’s going on because it was written with old timey words.” I opened the book and showed him.
“Do you like this book?” I nodded again.
“It’s really good.” I said
“Do you want to finish it?”
My eyes grew wide at the opportunity to finish this wonderful book filled with adventures and new words. I was about to be introduced to my love of Shakespeare. He tosses the book gently on my bed and finishes with “Good let me know how it ends I have to write a report on it in a couple of weeks.”
That was okay with me. I got to finish reading his book. In fact I got to read many books from my brother’s class. Little did they know that an eight year old didn’t write reports like a teenager. But I was thrilled with the possibility of having first dibs on all of the books that came home from school.
The next day my mother decided it was time to take me to the library. OH MY GOODNESS! An entire building whose job it was to hold all of those books. I loved the library what a place made of dreams and thoughts and ideas of some of the best story tellers ever. Mark Twain…I dreamed of being told stories sitting around a campfire with Mark Twain at the helm. Who wouldn’t want to hear Mark Twain telling them a bed time story. I went to his house once…I will never forget it. He was my favorite, still is. I admired him for years. I often wonder what he would say about politics today, or travel today, or could you imagine Mark Twain on Facebook or twitter.
Yes, We can’t all be athletic, some of us are dreamers, some of us are artists, some of us are thinkers, some of us are explorers, but all of us we do our best and that’s why I love reading. In books the characters get to complete themselves which is so different from real life. In books the problem is apparent and people learn truths and life is often wrapped up neatly in the end. Baseball may not teach everyone the lessons it taught me…and no I never made it in the baseball hall of fame for standing closer to the pitcher and getting the perfect hit. I do have a certain regard towards people who have ended up there and trust me if you go to the library you can probably find a book all about them. You see I wasn’t built for baseball and that is perfectly fine with me. I was made to love books and stories and admire people. I was made to be me and I try to be the best me possible.
Until next time 🙂