Dream Chasers (Throw Strikes)

 
My husband played minor league baseball for six years. He never left for the ballpark without giving me a kiss, or without me saying, “Throw strikes.”

 
He retired at the ripe old age of 23.

 
He made that choice because the minor league baseball lifestyle is hard. We married young (see picture), and because I wanted to be with him I tagged along. We moved 36 times in five years. We always had roommates. I mean, I lived with EIGHTEEN different guys during those five years. Not lived in SIN, just shared space. I intend to write my next book from the male perspective. Believe me when I say I know the male mind.
 
If you have a daughter? Keep her away from ballparks.
 
We were poor. When we lived in upstate New York I worked at New York and Co, Bath and Body Works and Limited Too. I would walk into the mall and stop by all three places to figure out where I was supposed to be.
 
One thing we weren’t short on was entertainment. I could tell stories for days.
 
Some stories are funny, like the time the guys were on the road and one of our roommates called and asked me to remove his list of “special” phone numbers and any evidence of prophylactics from his bedside drawer because his girlfriend was surprising him with a visit.
 
Some stories are sad, like the guy who had a wife and two kids and was only a utility player. Everyone knew it but him. The day they sent him home I cried. I wonder where that family is all the time. I pray their lives turned out well.
 
Some stories are scary. I was once accosted by a woman while I was waiting outside the locker room after a game. She accused me of being a groupie and told me … I can’t really say what she told me. In response I flashed my wedding ring. Turns out SHE was the groupie. Also, she was drunk.
 
Some stories I can’t repeat.
 
Did I mention? If you have a daughter, keep her away from ballparks.
 
But it was fun, too. We were young and it was just us and every day was an adventure. We were dream chasers. I threw every pitch with him (in my mind). I learned the difference between a curve ball and a change up – what they looked like coming out of a pitcher’s hand. In the car we’d play National League vs. American League and I would guess which teams went in which league. I watched more Sportscenter and Baseball Tonight than any woman should ever have to endure. I knew ERA’s and batting averages and trade deadlines and …
 
I developed an opinion on the designated hitter.
 
Lots of things happened the fall he decided to retire. His contract with the Mets was up and his sports agent couldn’t get the team to guarantee a Triple A contract for the next season (Triple A is the level just before the majors). We bought a house.
 
We lost a baby.
 
When you chase a dream that requires use of your body – any contact sport, dancing, ice skating, etc. – you have a limited time window. Over the years, Ethan had a ligament in his elbow replaced and an aneurysm in his shoulder. The elbow surgery cost him time. It wasn’t career ending, but it was detrimental.
 
My husband made the heartbreaking choice to stop chasing his dream. Pitchers and catchers report to spring training earlier than everyone else, usually around Valentine’s Day. He gets a look in his eye that time of year. I know what it means. I still don’t know how to help him process it.
 
My dream requires the use of my brain. Stop laughing. When I told Ethan two and a half years ago that I was going to write a book, he thought I’d abandon it like I abandoned all the projects piled up in my craft closet.
 
He was wrong.
 
Now, writing is our dream. There’s NO WAY I ever would have written one word if he hadn’t been willing to cook, clean, hang with children, pay bills, wash clothes, help with homework, grocery shop and do all the things that make a household run. All of this on top of his day job, at which he excels (competitiveness never leaves a person if it’s been ingrained, I’ve learned).
 
Today, I just wanted to let him know, publicly, that I am so grateful to be married to a man who understands what it’s like to chase a dream.
 
Mac, I love you even more for chasing it with me.
 
Throw strikes. 
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