Where You Cannot Hide

fieldAs I kid I had an aversion to athletic fields. Something about their open, sun-baked sterility depressed me; I was a nervous kid prone to hiding in woods and libraries. Athletic fields were for normal boys, the kind with no trace of self-consciousness, a quality I deeply envied and never fully understood. And though I was lucky enough to escape the lowest rungs of the school pecking order, and never the very last chosen for recess sports, my self-doubting hamstrung my innate athleticism, which, going by my parents’ hilarious lack of hand-eye coordination, wouldn’t have been that impressive.

I’ve grown up to be a private man who plasters his private life all over the internet. Few of us are consistent at all times. But as any honest writer would admit, the life I spill here is just a version of the “real” one.  Every sentence considered and measured, every paragraph revised until most, if not all, its errors have been rubbed away. A manufactured self is the one I’m most comfortable displaying.

I’ve spent a good chunk of the last year on athletic fields, working my way through a couple of seasons of softball, a season of casual Fall Ball, and an out-of-state tournament or two. I took this photo standing beside the batting cages in Palm Springs, waiting my turn while the Manly Fireplug swung away. But in sports there’s no revision or erasing. You make mistakes in front of other people on those open, sun-drenched fields. And you either let those dropped balls kill you, or you figure out a way to shrug them off, hoping with practice and persistence that the next time will be different.

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