Riding into the city on a slick new bus with an enthusiastic array of colleagues from the company yesterday to watch baseball–Giants and Dodgers–throwing and hitting at each other for three or four hours. Away up high in the concrete, center field bleachers, not even able to see the scoreboard, and just barely able to see the actual players score runs, but I felt much more connected to humanity and to my colleagues from this outfield vantage than I ever would in a conference room back in the compound where so much of our shared lives are lived.
The gummy traffic up the peninsula along the edge of the bay caused me to wonder how people put up with this each day. I suppose you crawl into your luxury sedan, plug in your favorite music, maybe take a coping pill, and then start, stop, and inch your way through the steaming metallic forest. I suppose that if I were to enter the constant stream of traffic that continuously loops around the bay I would become oblivious to any memory of the landscape. The fellow sitting next to me on the bus lives close to where I went to high school, which has been torn down and replaced with a shopping center. He tells me he didn’t know a high school once stood there. I told him that I don’t see the shopping center when I go through that intersection. I see PE coaches, friends, teachers, football games, swimming races, German classes, and Saturday morning basketball games.
Somewhere under the foot print of these eerily flashy, big box stores lies a whole community manufactured by my aging memory. The memory is shared only with those who participated. To all else it’s a locked gate community. On the busy road each packs along his own subset of the consciousness that is common to all of humanity, effortlessly passing over farms, orchards, and aboriginal habitats, while the memories have been asphalted and striped.
But when we get to the ballpark to see the Giants and the Dodgers, I see so many people all at once, as if a thousand high schools full of kids spring forth from under asphalt and from everywhere to gather for an afternoon of sun on the edge of the bay. Though I’m not enthralled by crowds and orchestrated cheering and chants, feeling a little loss of my individuality and just not willing to let go of my sense of self because it is so thin and easily ruptured, I do immediately get this grand sense of how we all desire to coalesce with one another, as it was when I went to high school. The game is a coming together of many for a day of play. I didn’t realize how seriously these Giants fans were until I saw them carrying long-handled whisk brooms into the park and holding them beside them in the stadium seats. Were they going to clean up the park after the game? Nope, come to find out that if the Giants beat the Dodgers today they would sweep the series, so the brooms were a symbol of this three-game victory.
There is some playfulness, some severe silliness, in all this camaraderie that I just do not see when out with the rest of humanity on the highways. Maybe people are like that in their cars too, but cannot express it because of the metallic isolation. Oh, Giants won.