It is Spring cleaning time in the Jack’s Shack garage. For the past month I have used portions of my limited free time to go through my garage to weed out things that are no longer needed.
The sorting process in which I determine which items stay and which items go is very detailed. I pick up the item and make a decision as to whether it is still useful to me or if it is just clutter. I try to make an assessment that incorporates current and future usage of the item
Since I am a sentimental old fool it is a long and arduous process. I open up boxes and sort through the items contained therein. Within those boxes are pieces of my past, my present and my future. There are invaluable treasures that call out to me, begging for another moment in the sun.
There is my first baseball glove, school pictures, camping gear, baseball cards, old gadgets and old tools. There are letters that I received from friends and family who are gone and an assortment of tchotchkes that have survived every move because I just might use them again.
Every now and then I come across a card or letter from an old girlfriend. I am always surprised to see them as I had thought that they had all been removed from my possession. Typically I stop to read them and see what life was like back in the day. Sometimes they make me smile and sometimes I just shake my head.
Some of them have made me laugh hard as I read the promises of eternal love and “Jack + So and So forever.” Don Henley should be playing “Boys of Summer” in the background.
In a separate corner there is a box with trophies from various activities. I picked it up and looked inside. I pick up one at random and read the inscription and travel back in time.
It is 1977 and I am playing t-ball as a member of the Yankees. I hate that we aren’t the Dodgers but I play because I love the game. For a moment I remember clear blue skies and the yells of encouragement from the parents on the sidelines.
We are playing in the championship game. I hit the ball and run like hell to second base. A double. Not too shabby. The batter after me hits a single. It is not hard enough for me to advance to third base. Now there are two outs with runners on first and second. The coach yells out that we need to run as fast as we can.
I stare intently at homeplate and as soon as I see him hit the ball I begin a mad dash for third base. I hear people screaming to run faster and I know that the fielder has the ball so I try to move even faster, but it is not enough.
The third baseman catches the ball a moment before I get there and casually steps on the bag. I am out. I just made the final out of the game and feel terrible. Later on the way to lunch my father reminds me that it is just a game and I should be proud. I am not. I am crying and upset because if I hadn’t made that final out we might have won the game.
A couple of cokes and a burger later I feel better, but that feeling will return some years down the road.
It is 1981 and I am playing little league baseball. I have come into my own. I can hit for both power and average. I play left field and am proud to lead the league in homeruns. I have six and a ton of extra base hits to boot.
It is the bottom of the 9th inning and I am back on second base. The batter sends a long fly ball into center field. It bounces in front of the center fielder. The third base coach screams to run hard and tells me to go home.
I round third base and am flying towards home plate. The catcher is standing there with his mitt outstretched and I know that he is just waiting to catch the ball and tag me out. But this time I am not going to be the final out. This time I am determined not to let history repeat itself and so I crash into him at full speed and we both go down hard.
For a moment I can’t hear anything and then I realize that my team has surrounded me and is jumping up and down with joy. I scored. I did it. That one moment will replace the early disappointment and serve me well for the rest of the season and my baseball career.
My reverie is broken by the sound of the postman so I shut the trophy box and head over to a different corner of the garage.
Situated in between baby gear and boxes of old toys is a trunk full of clothes. I am good about getting rid of clothes so these are just items that I kept because they have a lot of meaning for me.
There is a leather jacket I used to wear. There is a picture of me in it. I am standing in front of a blue ’77 Camaro. They went together.
One of the shirts I received when my high school swim team won the league championship keeps it company as does the letters I received for being part of the team. There is torn pair of 501s that I won’t ever get rid of and a few more items that make me smile.
It is no wonder that this project is taking longer than it should. I am too busy smiling and laughing to clean any faster.
The one thing that this has confirmed for me is that I have had a very good life. I wonder what other memories will be added to these. Guess that I’ll just have to wait and see.