When I think of baseball I think of packing lunches and blankets to go all over the city for my older brother’s travel baseball games. I think wearing his old jerseys to those games so I could support him. I think of asking for baseball cards for my birthday to add to my collection. I think of afternoons where my dad would explain what was happening on TV with the Cubs and teaching me all the rules of the game. I think about going outside into the courtyard and playing catch with my brother and dad. I also recall that we used to get kids from the neighborhood to play with us. We would stay out in the yard all day. I remember playing softball in a league for 4 years and going to an ice cream parlor for ice cream and fries after each victory. I think of watching The Sandlot. Baseball reminds me of my Alfonso Soriano jersey I never took off in middle school. It reminds me of my family because most of my childhood revolved around that sport in one way or another.
Baseball has always had a special place in my heart.
This summer I’ve been blessed to be able to work at the legendary Wrigley Field as a fan photographer and its been the greatest thing in the world. If you’ve spent more than 5 minutes with me, you know this. Because I don’t ever stop talking about it.
I stopped keeping up with the Cubs when my dad left, because we stopped spending money on cable. My older brother went away to college (where he continues to play baseball for his school.) and so all my huge baseball influences were gone. I sort of let it go for a while. Then the Cubs team I loved fell away; some players retired and others got traded. I don’t know where most of them are anymore. They’ve all sort of fallen off the grid. I had forgotten how much I cared until this summer.
This summer has been magical. My first day of work I was exhausted. I was standing all day and doing stairs. I was in so much pain on the way home. But I couldn’t stop smiling. Whenever I’m there I can’t help but think about how blessed I am. I mean, I had been asking God for the perfect job. One I loved, one that was close, one that was easy. And truthfully, I only love it. It’s so hard. It’s so far away. It takes a lot out of me. But I am so in love. I’ts worth all that to me. My boss is so great and understanding and my coworkers are gems, honestly.
One day last week I got to work two hours early. So I sat in the stands and listened to worship music. It was the greatest thing. I mean…who gets to do that before work? I just stared off at the field and thought about all the people that come to the stadium. Seriously. I’m constantly overwhelmed when we all rise to sing the national anthem. That place holds over 41,000 people. Plus staff. And its sold out pretty much every night. I always wonder why they’re there. I think about all those people who all have stories and dreams and people they love and reasons why baseball means a lot to them just like it means a lot to me. I wonder why they’re Cubs fans or fans of opposing teams. Sometimes I feel so small; but most of the time I feel in awe just thinking that each one of those people matter. 41,000 people and each person still matters. I still matter.
I know most people I know hate sports, and you could be one of them. But think about this: community. That’s what it is. Just like I said about the Oscars; it’s a crap ton of people getting together to celebrate something so stupid and meaningless yet so powerful. Depression makes me think of things I love as pointless. But times like the time I have at work make me remember that we were created to love and live and enjoy the little things. It’s just a game but at the same time, its not just a game. And I’m not sure if that makes sense.
The other thing about my job is that it’s hard. I hate asking people for photos. I’m shy. I have panic attacks at work sometimes. Yet it’s worth it. Every time I walk into that stadium I’m greeted by a random person with a smile on their face. I swear all the workers there act like each day is the best day of their life. I remember that I’m doing what I love when I hear Shoop come on the loud speakers and Addison Russell walk up to the plate. My second day at work, my favorite got a homerun and the crowd went wild. I think about that and how alive I felt and how I couldn’t stop smiling on the bus ride home.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that I used to be really sad. Now I’m really happy. If you’re struggling right now, I want you to know that it’s okay and that you won’t be struggling forever. I want you to embrace all those silly things that make you smile because yeah they’re stupid but they matter. If you need a reason to keep fighting today, here it is. Think about all the beautiful things you haven’t experienced yet and all the people you haven’t met. They’re waiting for you. Hang on for them.
I could talk about this job forever so I’m just going to stop here. This post came out way more scattered than I had planned. But really, I never thought I would get to say my first job was at Wrigley Field getting to do what I love. Never in a million years would I have thought that. Yet here I am. Someday, I hope you get a job that you love so much you’d wake up at 6:45 to take a bus for an hour to get to. I hope you feel alive when you’re there. I hope you fall in love with your life and don’t settle for less.
(PS. I’m obsessed with all the photos I take at work so I hope you love them as much as I do.)