Saturday, November 7, 2009
I watched, wrapped in the shadows painted in the back of the auditorium as my closest friends poured their hearts out on the stage, kicking, dancing and singing while the sound system blared and the stage lights blazed. The practiced steps, the focused and determined gazes, their limbs responding to the rhythm, while the crowd responded in turn in a mighty roar. The house was falling, and in my delirium I wanted to fall with it. My heart leaped with every leap on and from the stage, every leap from all the feet the auditorium could barely contain.
It was over, from the moment it began. The slow, agonizing sizzle of the fuse had reached the gunpowder, and the explosion arrived. It was all I could do to hold myself together and watch what I had helped bring to life continue on it's own. Intelligent design could not explain the raw emotion that now radiated from the stage and from the seats.
And it was over. The winners, by a long shot. Redemption for what was deserved, but not given. Now there was no doubt, and the revelers would have it no other way as they held hostage to the infrastructure until the edict was decreed. They won.
I drifted from the auditorium and found myself outside, in front of the school. It was a darkness that was oddly permeated with reflective light from the snow that was also drifting, drifting down to where I stood in anticipation... wonder... confusion... and loss. I was no longer a part of the energy that radiated from the crowd, I was no longer attached to the intelligent design that created the moment. I was myself. A lonely boy dying of something natural, yet unknown. A young man who sacrificed his body and his emotions to ensure that the moment was right. Now that it was over, there was nothing left to do but wonder if there would even be a next time. I spied the empty bench in the center of the parking lot in front of the school entrance. I sat down and pondered one mystery in my life:
Mission accomplished...now what?
I had done simply what i was supposed to. I supported my friends as they trained themselves for competition; I played the box while they rehearsed. When issues developed, I handled them in a constructive manner. There were times where I stood by and watched while they practiced their steps, and there were times when I reminded them they needed to do so. Somewhere along the line I kept them from falling apart at the seams. At some point, nature tried to take me out of the picture. I was back the next day as though nothing had happened; to which I was forced to rest and recover against what I considered my better judgment. I stood underneath so I could push my friends to the top, and when they finally got there, I let go and walked away so they could have all the credit they deserved. They worked harder than anyone else to have this glorious moment, and they were the ones who should bask in the limelight of victory and accomplishment. I was content to die alone in a corner where no one would notice and I would not be a bother or burden. I cried involuntarily at the notion, but I was ready to eschew what ego I had remaining and accept the order of existence. I leaned softly to the side of the bench, awash in the drifting snow that mixed with melancholy and waited for what I felt was inevitable.
A familiar face wondered outside and approached me. It was the woman of my dreams, or so I had once hoped. I had had a crush on her for several years, but that was dashed when I first began understanding the concept of truth. The truth was she didn't want me, and nothing I could have done would change that. And though that was a painful lesson for a teenager about the real world, my response must have inspired many to think about me differently in a subtle way. She approached me and asked me what I was doing out here in the snow.
I don't know what is to become of me, I said. We've come a long way to get to this point, and now that it's over I have to go back to being me again. They earned the lights and the cheers and the praise, all I did was help them get there. This is all for them, not me. I don't know what's happening to me. I may not live to see another day, never mind another day like this. No one should have to see this or deal with this, and I'm not going to drag them all down with me. So here I am, letting them enjoy the moment while I stay out of their way. If I die now or later on, at least I've helped to accomplish something important to all of us.
She looked at me, stunned. I can't believe you can say something like that, she said. What do you mean "drag them down with you"? Do you realize how important you were and are to them? You held them together when they were falling apart, you sacrificed yourself as much as they did to win this competition and you deserve as much respect as they do. You can't do this to yourself. Look, she said, choking, you've got me crying now. You need to get back in there with everyone else and take your rightful place among everyone else, and don't you dare tell me you don't deserve it.
I looked at the tears streaming down her face and decided that she was right, or if nothing else I now felt terrible for making her cry. Maybe I was shortchanging myself. Or maybe I had taken human nature for granted. Whatever it was, I shook off the flurries and made my way back inside.
I tell you all that to tell you this... When the ball reached Robinson Cano's glove and he threw to Mark Teixeira at first, sealing the Yankees' 27th World Series Championship, I was at once awash in glory and disillusion, creating within me a strangely muted warmth that has inhabited me even to today as I write this post. I am as true a Yankee fan as one could imagine, yet for some reason I could not enjoy this moment as much as my mind said I should. Perhaps it 's my experiences within the last nine years between the last championship and this one, perhaps because of the varying experiences and context of reaction from my Banter family, perhaps because I am no longer the young boy that was waiting to die in the snow after an important moment in his life, or perhaps because I've internalized all of these emotions and experiences and have hardened myself beyond typical reactions other than a a guarded optimism or boiling frustration that erupts from a geyser.
But my reaction is relative to my earlier experience in that now, as I witness a great accomplishment and watch others celebrate, I wonder to myself, now what? What is to become of certain players, of my friends and of me?
I went to work and sat in a van all day, which is my current assignment, while some of my friends and even my supervisors participated in the parade, either as spectators or actually walking in the parade behind the floats. I witness ed their joy afterwards as they happily related their experiences, and I felt every bit glad for them to be a part of history in such a way others could only wish for. My mind rationalized this all as partly luck, partly knowing the right people, but all good. My heart said, good for you. If it were me, I'd enjoy it too, but it's not, so whatever. Yet, I have to wonder if my heart is being true; not that I would expect to be jealous or even wish it were me over them, but I do wonder why, in my entire life it seems, the anticipation of reaching this goal is much more satisfying than the actual event?
When people say you should focus on not on the destination, but the journey, I wonder if they know what it's like when they do get there. Is it anything like what I feel; an emptiness at the fact that its all over?
Someday, I hope I'll be able to enjoy the destination as much as I enjoy getting there.