My plan to stay on California time wasn’t well executed because–as it turns out–American Airlines goes ahead and switches time zones when they fly into Charlotte, and they expect me (if I want to fly home on my prepaid flight) to show up via the clocks operating on EST. That said, I couldn’t go to sleep until midnight (California time), yet had to get up at 6:00 (Bluefield time). Calculation: Three hours of sleep.
The only thing making it easy to leave Jarret and Allie is knowing that we’re coming back for Jarret’s 21st birthday in August. If it weren’t for that, I’m not sure I could leave them without causing a scene reminiscent of Snoopy crying a waterfall of tears. Jarret’s team plays in Tennessee today, and Jarret will pitch in the second game, one I could have seen if my calculations would have been more accurate and if there hadn’t been a rain out. We went to dinner last night at Applebee’s… at 11:00 p.m. My eating schedule is also on California time, which is good considering that the baseball players ALL eat at this hour. Both times we’ve gone at 11:00, the restaurant is full of players and their families. Last night, we were entertained by a few of them as they joked, talked about the game, and carried on the way boys do: “Jarret, I used your deodorant in the club house. I just thought I should tell you.”
Getting my coffee down in the lobby this morning, I ran into one of Jarret’s coaches. He travels to Bluefield only during the season; otherwise he hails from Michigan. He told me stories of the players he’s coached, who’ve stayed right in the little motels dotting the city. The most memorable of the names he used was Cal Ripken, Jr., who the coach said never hit a home run while he was on the Bluefield Orioles (then went on to be arguably one of the best players of all time). Players at this stage, he said, are still developing. “Sometimes people ask ‘Who drafted that guy?’ when they see a player at this developmental stage. Scouts have projected a player to be something someday, and sometimes it isn’t until they’ve been here two or three years before they develop into the player the scout thought they’d be.” He also shared some details about the harsher side of professional baseball, explaining that they had to “let go of” two players last night. “One of them,” he said, “cried for 10 minutes.” I can imagine–because I cried a little inside, too, when I heard the news that no baseball player wants to hear: that his baseball days are over. It’s a tough dream to live — there are thousands of players in the minors, and only 30 teams in the majors with 30 players on each roster. Not good odds, as these two young men just learned the hard way. On top of feeling like they are constantly auditioning, the players have the added stress of needing to perform or lose their job. Not very glamorous, is it?
Closing Bluefield observations before I pack my laptop: I saw my first centipede this morning while taking a suitcase to the car. I berated myself for not having my cell phone to take a photo, but luckily all you need to do is Google a “soil centipede” to see what he looked like. Potholes: Literally, potholes the size of gophers are in sidewalks and at the stadium. There is no concrete in the city that doesn’t pose a risk to breaking an ankle. Flies: I went three days in Bluefield without seeing a fly. I’ve now seen three since I’ve been here. I’ve figured it out, though: flies must not be able to fly in the humidity. I just washed and straightened my hair, for example, walked outside to put luggage in the car, and when I walked back up to the room my hair was already curling. The air is deceiving; it isn’t suffocating like the air in Charlotte last weekend or in Florida, where everyone walks around looking like they just jumped in a swimming pool wearing their clothes. It doesn’t feel humid when you’re out in it, but you can tell it’s wet air when your car has condensation all over the hood. My hair knows. I can’t really feel the humidity, but my hair can. Personal space: The people here don’t have as much sensitivity to one’s personal space as we do in California. Standing in line yesterday, a woman was quite literally standing in my back pocket. I would shuffle forward casually, and she would follow.
That’s all for now. I need to get moving and drive over (2 minutes) to get Jordyn from Jarret’s room. She claims she’ll be packed and ready when I get there. One final note: There is NO WAY my luggage will weigh under 50 pounds on the return flight. This is going to be an expensive day.
See you in California. 🙂