I’d made the decision to rejoin the Kuiper Belt of Mets Periphery on Opening Day this year, but Mr. Greg Prince of Faith And Fear In Flushing forced gently nudged my hand when discussing the endgame for woeful left-hander Oliver Perez on Twitter.  I said I’d buy tickets for this season if Ollie were released. Mr. Prince replied:

@omniality Even better, revive Section 528 this season. I miss it.

Mr. Prince certainly isn’t responsible for what I’m about to write (though know my thoughts are forever positive toward you, sir; fear not).  As a writer, and a human who struggles mightily both with procrastination and excuses for same, I feel I should explain myself.  So forgive me for what’s to follow.  It will link to the Mets, I assure you, but certainly drips with Too Much Information.  I don’t care.  You’re either one of those people who slows down to investigate a car wreck across the median, or you shout at those who do, from within your Camry.  Or you drive a different car.

There should be a joke there.  Volkswagen, something about college and term papers.  That’s as far as I got.

**

I’ve been away from writing in a (semi) daily, blogging sense for quite awhile because I’ve been busy breaking up with my wife.  Difficulties began in April of ‘09, ten months into our marriage, and progressed; the last post I wrote was on Ike Davis’s first day as a Major-League Met, in April of 2010.

That’s notable only because the day following the evening when we called things off for good, I could only think to go to a Mets game.  It was the day after our two-year anniversary, and the game against the San Diego Padres was tied at 1 going into the 11th.  My sister—always a champ—stuck around with me, and the crowd in our particular section heard me loud and clear when I (rather drunkenly) announced: “Right here.  Right here.  Davis wins it right here.  Bomb over the Porch.” 

Sure enough.

When that ball was hit, I dropped to my knees on the concrete before my seat, and screamed.  Everybody was screaming; my sister and a few guys behind us were pounding me on the back.  At some point, she wound up on the shoulders of some stranger, and someone else tried to lift me up.  Pandemonium.

My sister is the one on the left; I’m the slovenly bastard on the right.  “Mike,” an events A/V consultant we met that night, is behind the camera and his forefinger mildly obscures the lower left-hand corner.

Eventually, June 8th, 2010 became June 9th, 2010, and I had to move on. 

Breaking up with a wife is… bizarre.  I’d had one live-in girlfriend before her, and that was difficult to end, but not impossible.  That it took as long as it did to finally break things off should demonstrate just how impossible it felt to me to be. 

Like the Mets last year, I had more bad days than good, but understand I was far from using the Mets to cope in any real way.  Maybe if they’d been better I’d’ve tried, but none of it seemed to have a point to me beyond a superficial soothe or container for rage.  When I felt like myself, I’d watch a game.  When I felt very much NOT like myself, which was often, I’d go running until my calves begged for release, or watch the same episode of Sports Night over and over (“Shoe Money Tonight,” if interested), or—and this did no one any real favors—go out and get drunk.  Or stay in and get drunk.  Or get drunk, then run, or stay in, watch Sports Night, and get drunk, or mix in all three with a healthy dose of going somewhere to spend as much on two pints as I could on a six-pack.  And games were incidental.

Now: I am not to be pitied.  The remarkable safety valve of my particular procrastination is designed to make me lazy in all respects.  I kept myself alive, but by expending the least energy possible.  Did the job I work for pay.  Came home.  Made a sandwich.  Any beer in the fridge?  Drank that.  That Sports Night disc in the player?  Turned that on.  When the cold cuts or bread ran out, or the beer ran out, or the disc had been replaced by Down By Law, I spent the least amount of energy possible to keep me marginally sustained.  Nine times out of ten, this meant my walking only a block and a half to a newish and delightful Welsh pub, and they took care of me.  If I lived in a different neighborhood—hell, even a different part of Bay Ridge, such as where I am now, closer to the Verrazano—I’d’ve gotten into a fistfight at some point.  I’m not to be pitied.  I’m to be thought of as really fucking lucky.

(Sidebar: this blog has moved in part because MLBlogs, for all their positives, doesn’t allow profanity.  It’s stifling, especially when writing about the Mets.  And I appreciate well-timed cussin’.  If this remains on Tumblr or goes someplace else, expect a smattering or an occasional explosion of same.)

This all came upon me gradually.  Bad days mixing in with good from April of 2009 until it was really that the good days were mixing with the bad.  For about three weeks, though, from late August through mid-September last year, I will admit the wheels came off. 

I remember most nights but not all.  I’m fairly certain I let more than one carton of milk slide past its expiration date.  Again, I was fucking lucky: the people whose company I kept were close and aware, and kept me from doing half the silly shit I really wanted to do.  The other half amounted to: let him stay out late.  Let him talk ‘til he’s hoarse.  It was the non-boxing equivalent of punching oneself out.   

Again: breaking up with a wife is bizarre.  The things I thought I should’ve changed about myself are things I either fixated on sadly, or lionized.  I was the one to revive her Mets fandom.  We’d gone to Opening Days.  We’d watched and napped on weekends before she left the state for school, and after that, we’d watched when she was in town.  So I would either watch Mets games with a lump in my throat, or watch them with pride and a snide quiet comment about how she never understood the damn game, anyway.  (Which is not true.  She does understand the game, even if she needed Baseball For Dummies to supplement her knowledge.  She knows enough to hate Joe Morgan’s blessedly-departed commentary.)

I barely noticed the departure of baseball.  I moved on to football, a sport that seems to demand bingeing of some kind or another, whether it’s on food or drink or noise or commentary.   I moved on to Rex Ryan and Mark Sanchez and Darrelle Revis and everybody that was against them as they attempted to get that 42 year-old monkey off their collective back. 

In a messy situation, borders are rarely defined and there are few red-letter days.  I remember the final breakup conversation.  I remember Ike’s home run.  I remember the last time I woke up beside my toilet.  I remember the Jets winning in the last seconds of overtime more times than I thought I could handle.  And there’s no one day when I sat up and said to myself, “Well, shit.  You should probably clean up, make sure everything about you is in one piece, and then see what you can do about living within the conventional bounds of society again.”  The hangover from those weeks in August and September lasted a month or more, and digging out from under all the foolish things I said and planned to do took some time as well.  I had a weeklong relapse of idiocy when my father took ill (he’s now fine), and tacked that recovery onto the principal.

Yes, borders are rarely defined and there are few red-letter days.  I can’t tell you whether I felt like myself at the end of November or the beginning of December; I can’t tell you if everything clicked when I finally got out of the city for a couple days or when the decorations went up for Christmas.  Jesus—I’m not sure I can tell you everything’s absolutely fine.  Some parts certainly aren’t: I have such a blind spot for a specific television project I’ve been working on since 2003 that in describing it for the first time to someone last night, I briefly froze.  Do I tell her?  Will she stomp all over it?

When I was married, most things didn’t bother me, and when I stopped being married, most things bothered the hell out of me.  And the difference isn’t the absence of a “good woman”; it’s the crippling realization that a break-up of that sort fixes what was more wrong than it was right.  I’m glad no one was waiting for me to wake up and declare I was fine, because I’d’ve blown the hell out of the deadline.

I simply grew secure in talking about all this, and secure in the knowledge that what was mine was mine, and what we shared I had just as much a right to, whether it originated from me or my wants, or hers.  It happened too late to prevent some things said in haste.  But, despite my momentary hesitations, it has happened in time to really appreciate what I have.

And I have more than enough to count myself as a lucky bastard.  Despite the terribly foggy nights I’ve lived through recently, I’ve got a clean bill of health.  Moved to a gorgeous new apartment in my still-amazing neighborhood, and have a home office to boot.  Work has settled, and indeed I have more and new opportunities to do good things.  While we don’t talk often, my ex-wife and I exchange occasional messages and, when I’m in her neck of the woods—she’s still out-of-state—we’ll have a meal.  Other aspects of moving on proceed delightfully apace.

I don’t know that I could have done all this, or become who I am at present, without the 2010 Mets being as lousy as they were.  I mean that.  If they’d’ve been better, chances are good that I would’ve missed it, or hitched my wagon too closely to their star.  As September turned to October, if the Mets were in the postseason, I’d’ve tacked several more years onto my liver.  If the Mets achieved the playoffs only to lose, I’d’ve hit a tailspin.  Instead, while baseball is an important part of my life, I now believe I can do without it.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’d be the poorer for not having it.  Baseball is a remarkable part of our society; a great diversion most of the time and great to get lost in whenever it won’t just cause you more harm.  There is nothing wrong with getting heated about things in a space where the consequences aren’t thermonuclear war or a theological schism or the separation, for good, of all dogs and all cats.  But if I didn’t exactly know where I end and baseball begins, I certainly do now.  And I’m grateful for that.  I now know what the hell I’m doing.

I have to thank the Mets for making sure I missed very little last season.  In a way, their mediocrity saved me from myself.  I hope your experiences differ greatly: that in 2010, you lived an interesting and satisfying life, and the Mets made you want to tear your hair out or throw something at the TV, or check in on NASCAR and soccer instead.  (Maybe not NASCAR.)  (Maybe not soccer.)  I had to go for awhile.  Now I’m back.

And oh, buddy, do I wanna have some fun.

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