In honor of Opening Day…

It’s Derek Jeter’s last season. This depresses me on many levels. Makes me feel old, yada yada yada, but mostly, it brings me back to his rookie season in 1996 (ninth grade) and the many nights I stayed up late into the night with my clock radio pressed to my ear so I could hear the end of the Yankees’ extra-inning games. So, in honor of his last season, I’m posting an old essay I wrote about love and baseball. It’s called “Me and My Mattingly.”

I found this picture on the internet, but I do actually own this card, naturally.

I found this picture on the Internet, but I do actually own this card, naturally.

The first time I fell in love, I was seven years old. The Yankees were not a great team back then, despite the impressive talent on their roster: Dave Winfield. Rickey Henderson. Don Mattingly.

It was Mattingly who first caught my eye. Tall and pinstriped with a stately sheriff’s moustache, Don was a real looker. His dimpled chin, deeply set eyes and near-constant stubble—this was a rugged, adorable hunk.

Most importantly, like me—and like so many great first basemen—he was left-handed. Left-handed! We had so much in common: I ate with my left hand. So did Don! I threw a ball with my left hand. So did Don! At night, I curled my teddy bear into the crook of my left arm. And so did Don! He and I were obviously a match made in heaven. The only real problem was that we’d never actually met.

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Del Boca Vista vs. mid-century modern

In May, Martin and I met my mother, Uncle Joe and cousin Ali in Palm Springs. It was the perfect combination of poolside lounging, eating, hiking, tennis playing, scoping out real estate of the rich and famous, visiting art galleries, hiking and riding around under the beaming sun, top-down in Joe’s convertible.

(There was also a now-classic line from my mother. Driving by the massive wind farm outside of Palm Springs, she asked, “What makes them spin?” and then wondered if they were solar powered.)

But one of my favorite parts of the trip was finally getting to see Joe’s condo, which is by far the most fabulous condo in the history of fabulous condos. He bought it 5 or 6 years ago, gutted the whole thing (minus the fireplace) and rebuilt it with bold, bright mid-century colors and modern concrete floors throughout.

OK. So you know how you always want to see before-and-after-photos? (C’mon. You do. Everyone does.) Well, staying with Joe was like a real-life before-and-after. Martin and I crashed at a condo two doors down, which belongs to an old lady who now lives in a nursing home. The two units had the exact same layout and the exact same fireplace. Aside from that, they could not have been any more different.

It was like mid-century modern meets Del Boca Vista. Behold:

And a few shots from the trip:

 

The bus

Did I tell you I have a new job?

In October, I left my outpost in downtown Vancouver, Washington, where, from my cubicle, I could watch the bridge lift up and down over the Columbia River. I now spend my work week in a windowless cube under blue fluorescent lights in a “skyscraper” in downtown Portland.

(Or what counts as a skyscraper in Portland. The building has less than 30 floors.)

bridge lift

My old view of the bridge during a lift. If you look closely, you can see some “skyscrapers” on the horizon. That’s downtown Portland.

 

Working in downtown Portland means I’ve been able to leave my car at home and take the bus or light rail to work, which makes me feel like I’m back home in New York (sort of). It has also meant that Martin could sell his troubled Toyota to a man who knocked on the door and offered cash for it, full well aware of the condition it was in.

Taking the bus has many perks. One less car insurance bill. Less gas. One less car on the road. My work subsidizes my pass, so it’s only $40 a month for unlimited rides. And I can lost in a book during my commute, play games on my phone or stare idly out the window and think about absolutely nothing.

It also has its drawbacks.

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