Friday, March 21, 2014

No. 76 – Drifting

Performer: Jimi Hendrix
Songwriters: Jimi Hendrix
Original Release: The Cry of Love
Year: 1971
Definitive Version: None. The one I have is from Voodoo Soup, 1995.

When I left for California for Jin’s wedding in September 2004, I did so with the idea that I had scored my last professional baseball game. It had been an incredible experience, but I figured that by the time the next spring rolled around, I’d be in California, or, well, who knows, really? Either way, I wasn’t going to be back in Columbus, so I thanked Joe sincerely for the opportunity and that I’d always keep in touch.

Well, life, as always, has a way of turning the best laid plans and turning them into only so much dust in the wind. I met Laurie in California, of course, and it went well. Visiting her in Chicago in November went better, New Year’s better still.

While we ate New Year’s Day dinner, I gave Laurie an additional present—a birthday present. Her birthday was coming up in a couple of weeks, and I wanted to give her this present—a garnet necklace I’d bought in Columbus—separately.

It was then that, for the first time, Laurie invited me back before I left and for a certain date. She said it had been a long time since she had a regular boyfriend, and she wanted to have a date on her actual birthday. That sounded good to me.

Laurie had a specific place in mind. It was a place where she had been years before with friends but never wanted to go back until she was on a date, and now was the time. It was a very romantic place, she said, called Geja’s. The name meant nothing to me, but when I got home, I did a little sleuthing online and, although prices weren’t available, I assumed it would cost a pretty penny, but, well … Laurie was worth it.

Sometime after I got home but before her birthday, Laurie and I were chatting on the phone, and I told her about my Cooperstown plans the next month. Once I finished there, I said, I’d probably head to Florida to the archives of the National Association. Then, I’d be moving out to California.

So when will you be back from there? Uhh … I don’t know. I’m moving out there as in permanently to freeload off my sister until I finish my book whenever that is.

Now, I never thought of what had been developing between us as anything long term. I had no reason to think otherwise despite my feelings for Laurie, because of my plans. Even though Laurie was dimly aware of those plans, when she heard that I planned to move soon and that it would be for good, that hit her like a ton of bricks.

Laurie knew, as I did, that a move to L.A. would mean the end of our relationship. She wanted me away from her but not so far that it we’d never see each other. I don’t want you to go, she flat out told me. That pleased me to no end, but I knew she wasn’t ready for me to move to Chicago yet. Honestly, neither was I. That would be a full-time commitment.

However, remembering what happened to me romantically on a few occasions just as I was about to move away, I wasn’t about to let work get in the way of something promising in my personal life. I didn’t have a set timeline for my move; I could leave when I wanted.

Well, there’s no need to be hasty here. I could, I offered, see about the Clippers gig and maybe stay in Columbus for another summer and move to California after that.

Laurie liked that idea a lot, but I warned her that it could be a dead end. I found out about the Clippers job the September before the season started. I committed in early January. I hadn’t had any contact with Joe since I’d left—expressing zero interest in the job again—and I expected that the position was full. Who wouldn’t want to go to the ballpark and get paid to do it? But I promised Laurie I’d check.

Staying at home for another year, I was less concerned about. One night while out to dinner with Dad and Laura, I told them about how my relationship with Laurie was developing and how, if it was all right with them, I wanted to re-up with the Clippers for another year. Would they mind if I stayed with them? Dad immediately said he’d love it. I was a great guest, and they were happy to have me stay longer.

I just didn’t know whether there would be a job. I fired off an email to Joe. He assured me the job still was open. Whew. I told him that my plans had changed a bit, and if he could hold it open for another week, I’d let him know for sure then. He said no problem.

Laurie’s birthday weekend was great. We went out on Friday night with a large group of her friends—most of whom I’d met over New Year’s—and then Geja’s the next night.

It was everything she’d said it would be, and I fell in love with it right away. Gejas, for the uninitiated, is like walking into a time warp. It looked just like the old Cork and Cleaver—dark, wood, reds and oranges. They served Bar cheese and crackers on the bar while you waited for your table, fer crissakes!

Gejas is a fondue place, and I told Laurie that we’d do it up right, so we did, getting the surf and turf (steak and lobster) that we cooked at our own table. It was preceded by a cheese fondue and followed by a chocolate fondue that wasn’t to be missed. All told, the bill came to $250, not quite a record for me but way more than I had spent on a meal in a long time. I never flinched; I knew the job was dangerous when I took it.

We talked about the future. Laurie agreed again that me taking the Clippers job was a great idea. We’d still have separate lives, but I’d be close enough where I still could come to Chicago easily. Our relationship could continue now.

When I got home, I told Joe I was in, for every game like the previous year. He said he was glad to have me back. I was looking forward to another great spring and summer.

No comments:

Post a Comment