I remember breaking into a run and coming to a jerky halt just inches away from him. ‘Well done,’ was all he said. And then he brought out his hand from behind his back and clenched in it was a cap: my favorite team, a gift from my favorite person in the world.
I can feel the sweat of every match I played with this cap, on my fingertips. I can smell every victory, every moment of jubilation. I remember the days I wore it to school, my friends staring at it enviously. So many memories lodged in this little article of fandom.
Then there’s that other night. Years later. I was nearly thirteen and still wearing that cap. Waiting nervously outside her door, hoping she couldn’t tell. God, she looked pretty. Always did. Brown hair hanging down to her shoulders, those freckles that crinkled up whenever she smiled. We’d just returned from our very first date and I was hoping I could get to kiss her. It didn’t happen. But I’ll always remember that moment clear as daylight.
My childhood had been unusually happy. My parents allowed me my freedom and yet I always knew that they’d be there whenever I got into a mess. My friends were always a fun lot. Barry and Jake, my two best buddies. the school would not have been half as memorable without them. I had been quite a good student, not outstanding perhaps, but above average. Our Biology teacher in Junior High had a reputation of being the meanest cat around. I remember the time I had forgotten to submit an assignment on time. Not only did she send me to detention hall for two hours, she never missed the opportunity to remind the whole class of my misdeed! There was always baseball. Weekend games at the field and season’s tickets when Dad’s favorite team played.
I had always been a little shy, though. Rarely spoke out in class. I didn’t make the effort of making new friends: I was pretty happy with the bunch I knew and loved. I liked to spend most of the afternoons at home in my room unless we had a game. Reading was a lifelong companion.