Memories of a Recent October

In the world of baseball, October means the World Series. Two Octobers ago, it meant glory for all White Sox fans. Four perfect games paved the way for an event that hadn’t taken place for 88 years. I watched the winning game with my dad, a Chicago native who got glassy-eyed as the victorious final out approached. He was an eleven-year old boy the last time the Southtown had World Series fever. My grandfather went to some of those games in October of 1959, but my dad was too young. I don’t remember any of the excitement; I wasn’t even a thought at that point. I feel it now, though, so many thousands of wins, losses, and lives later.

October is a month of change. Baseball whittles itself down to two teams, trees purge their undesirables, and daylight loses gusto by the hour. It is also a month of rich vitality. Winds whoosh by and blow everything around. Rains come and smell thicker than before. Pumpkins enjoy a fleeting renaissance.

For 3 of the last 4 years, I’ve lived in L.A. during October. Rains come here too, and leaves fall (in some small quantities). The nights grow cold, and the air smells like citrus harvest and salt spray.

Today I woke up to the sound of garbage trucks. I remember October mornings of a not-so-distant past, when I’d let the still-warm sun wake me, along with the noise of my mother blowing leaves around in the backyard. Home is a season, and changes with rapid mood-shifts.

Where are the days of childhood, when Halloween costumes, high school football games, and pumpkin carving kept me awake at night? Who knew that change was more than a season of falling temperatures and earth tones? It is life.

Soon it will be November; October a fading thought. A new set of fans will rejoice in their team’s victory (think positive, Cubs fans), just as I did when the Sox won two years ago. My dad cried in ecstasy on that Wednesday night—the fourth straight win against Houston, sweeping the opponent to clinch the title. Chicago cheered. Ticker tape flew. The rapturous moment had come; one that, as my dad repeated through tears, “I never thought I’d live to see!”

But we do live to see such moments. We live for them. Sports offer plenty: moments of heavenly triumph where, for some reason, we rally together and see the glory. All of life is a push for these rarities. We have lost so much, and we feel it. When we gain, or nearly achieve, that immeasurable oneness and warmth, we forget our lot for a moment. But these are fleeting moments, and after and even during these beautiful exaltations of life, we see the pain coming back and back.

Impermanence. Time. Memory. Past.

Oh holy God: as the leaves fall outside my window, as the footballs begin to throw in earnest, as my life becomes broader and weightier with age… I see your glory. It peeks through the clouds and shines through the burnt oranges and pear yellows, and flickers out through the flashbulbs of light as a cracked bat signals one more team for the ages.