Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Springtime in the City

It's finally happened. Spring is actually here. My excitement knows no bounds. I've been running on minty beverages, solar power and the sheer joy of being able to wear flip-flops without fear of frostbite for the past forty-eight hours. It happens every spring-- I get overzealous and end up tiring myself out like a preschooler who's been out past his bedtime. Hand me a juice box and some animal crackers and put me to bed. Despite the sheer exhaustion that's overtaken me, I'm still going. Going for a walk at lunchtime. Going to the Sox game tonight. I should stay home and count my pennies, but the thaw has hit Boston and I couldn't care less about my bank account. There's baseball to be watched, walks to be taken, sunshine to enjoy.

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Now that's more like it.
The weekend started out nicely on Saturday in Rhode Island. My Mom watched our thermometer, waiting until it was warm enough to open the windows and let the fresh air in. Birds (and the fat-ass squirrel) ate at the birdfeeder, the birds singing happily in the sunshine. I cleaned our bathroom closet, singing along to WBRU, not minding the work since the fresh air was mixing with the smell of the cleanser, making everything seem fresh. My Mom and I drove around with the windows down all afternoon, soaking up the sun. Kerri and I went to Newport Saturday night, wearing only light jackets. The bartenders did a shot with us, I met a guy named Lancelot. It couldn't have been better.
Sunday found me up early, getting ready for a day at McCoy. I got my grease-stained Sox shirt on and waited for Kristen to arrive from New Hampshire. We got coffee in cups that assured us we were drinking the official iced coffee and iced lattes of the 2004 World Champion Boston Red Sox. Sunday was a perfect day for baseball. The sun was warm, but a cool breeze blew across the grass, carrying the sound of children's voices from across the park. We waited for two hours to see the World Series trophy, to finally touch it and believe that last fall wasn't all a dream. The boys of summer stretched on the lawn as we waited. A little boy in front of us demanded to know why a grill was parked in the picnic area. I screamed for Kevin Youkilis so loudly that mothers ushered their children away from me. The right side of my body got a sunburn during the wait to see the trophy.
And there was baseball. Honest to God baseball. For cheap. We had seats on the first base line for nine dollars. (The perfect perch from which to yell "Kevin Youkilis, you rock my socks off" or "We've got a seat in the car if you want to come back to Boston with us, Kevin.") A hot dog, a sausage and two orders of french fries cost sixteen dollars. The french fries were perfect-- thin, salty and crispy without being hard. Kids chatted about baseball around us, doing the wave. After the game (which the Paw Sox won) kids dangled buckets with baseballs down in the Sox dugout, angling for autographs. Youk signed some, immediately making me sad I hadn't put my telephone number in a bucket to lower down to him. Kristen and I stood in the park for a while after the game ended, watching little kids run the bases, unable to pry ourselves free from the sunshine, the sound and smell of baseball in the air.
Monday was Marathon Monday, the best Monday of the year. Something about Marathon day makes me giddier than a kid on Christmas. I got up early and went to Shaws to pick up some ice for the drinks and some cold medicine for Kristen. I noticed that everyone was in a good mood. People ate breakfast outside at Starbucks, greeting friends as they walked by. People took their morning run on the street where thousands of runners would soon come by. I had a grin on my face as the sun dried my damp hair. The breeze blew over my shoulders since I had a tank top on. It felt great to be back in the warm air for good, instead of just visiting it.
It felt like I'd walked into an episode of Sesame Street visiting Shaws that day. People smiled and were friendly. "Everybody's here getting their ice today," said the guy who was stocking the ice cooler. "Nothing worse than a warm beer on a hot day." I agreed as he put four bags of ice into my basket. The guy at Dunkin Donuts was his old jovial self, smiling as I nearly cleaned the place out of muffins, munchkins and hazelnut iced coffee. I felt like breaking into "The People in Your Neighborhood" but figured that song coming from a girl in movie star glasses wouldn't be quite right.
The party-goers arrived shortly after the first pitch of the Sox game. We sat around the living room, Emily and her friends running in and out to check on the status of her friend who was running the Marathon. Kristen and Deb told the epic story of the game they went to on Thursday. I cooked tacos and got sandwiches out. The radio was set out on the back porch which overlooks Beacon Street, so people could wait for the marathoners and keep up with the game. Kristen and I made some mojtios, the smell of mint and limes coming out of the plastic pitcher. Ice thudding into the bottom of plastic cups, the sound of people booing as Manny made his errors, the dull, mechanical sound of helicopters passing overhead all reminding me, all day long, that spring is finally here. Sounds like that don't happen in winter.
We made our way to the street when the marathoners got close to my neighborhood. Our mojitos poured into big blue cups, we stood on the sidewalk under the midday sun, squinting up to watch the leaders come through. The sound of the sirens comes first, warning the crowd that the race is coming. Then the media trucks come by, then one runner, one small mass of muscle and sweat, runs by and is gone. The crowd cheers, encouraging her. Then another runner. Then a pair of runners come by. Then the masses start coming through, the less experienced runners who paint their names on their arms so the spectators, people who don't know them, can cheer them on. "Go Paul! Go Canada! Go 2013!" I think the best thing about the Marathon is about the non-competitive nature of it. Yes, it's a race, and the runners are trying to get there before everyone else. But for the large majority of the runners the course is the competition. Just being able to cross the finish line, wrap yourself in foil like a human baked potato is the victory for most of the 20,000 marathoners. As a spectator, you get to have a part in that. You know you've encouraged someone, just some guy with bloody nipples and a wobble in his stride, to beat the course. One runner stopped right near us to stretch out his hamstrings. He was red in the face, but didn't look sick. Dried sweat wrapped around his waist like a belt. He pushed against the street light, wincing as the muscle loosened.
"You've got it! You're nearly there!" We cried as he turned away from the sidewalk and got ready to run again.
"Thanks, guys," he huffed as he took off, his stride now stronger.
When sunstroke was about to set in (mercifully Monday's sun exposure was on my left side, thus evening out my ying-yang burn from Sunday) we reconvened in my living room to watch the best of Will Farrell DVD. When it came time for the marathoning house guest to return, we sat on the shady porch, drinking Corona, glad to have a day out of work with such good weather. We talked about baseball, about how we could never run a marathon in less than two days, that finally spring arrived. It's continued today, with Pete Bouchard saying this:
Not good enough? Tomorrow the heat of summer bears down. 80s cover the landscape like hair on a Yeti. It's a beach day, it's a lake day, it's a hug the weatherman day - office hours by appointment.

So hug your cute weatherman. Take your lunch outside, even if it means getting precariously close to a goose turd. Run yourself ragged. Spring and summer are short in New England-- you can sleep when it snows again. If you need me, I'll be napping under the table at dinner before the Sox game.

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