Win Win

920x920Houston has been looking like a winner of late, which is quite grand given what happened a little more than three months ago. We’re still celebrating our World Series championship and to top everything off we got a lovely dusting of white flakes last week that literally made everyone smile. The landscape that had been covered in a different kind of precipitation back in August look like a picture postcard with every rooftop and tree glistening with just enough snow to create a winter wonderland.

We’ve really needed those little bits of joy because there is till so much recovery work needed. It breaks our hearts to know that there are still people not yet back in their houses. For some the journey home has been long and hard. Many were turned down for relief funds and others are being told that they will have to raise their foundations before getting permits for repairs. Families have wiped out their savings and in some cases spent hundreds of thousands of dollars for which they have had to get loans. While the rest of us have been getting ready for the holiday season, they’ve been consumed with worry. Still, we are all Houston Strong and the viral photo of a Houstonian cheering on a plastic lawn chair during the final game of the World Series inside his stripped down home seems to represent who we are.

You can imagine how wonderful we felt when we learned that not one, but two of our hometown heroes had won the Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year Award. Both J.J. Watt and Jose Altuve are beloved figures here in H Town and their twin win was glorious, because there are times when we wonder if anyone even knows where Houston is or that it is the fourth largest city in the nation. It sometimes seems that Cleveland is more identifiable to the world than Houston, but much of what is best about our city has put us on the map this year. Watt and Altuve are among our finest treasures and we are swelled with pride in knowing that they have been duly honored.

J.J. Watt is the kind of man that everyone mom wants her son to become. Aside from his tremendous talent on the gridiron he is a truly fine and generous human being. We’ve all come to realize that he is a gift to our city both on and off of the field. He’s perhaps our most reliable player when he’s not injured and so he is undoubtedly the fan favorite. When he immediately stepped up to help raise funds for those affected by the floods we were not surprised, but we were definitely grateful and humbled by his efforts which paid off beyond all of our wildest expectations. This was one of J.J’s most public moments of largesse, but those of us who live here know that he has been constantly and often very quietly doing wonderful things for the people of Houston.

J.J. Watt has been known to show up at hospitals and nursing homes. He even takes the time to attend high school sporting events to encourage local athletes. He is a superstar who has somehow managed to maintain his sense of humility. We are in awe of his towering presence, but we also view him as the guy next door because that is the way he wants to be. He’s our neighbor, one of us. His pain is ours, and so when his leg was shattered fairly early in the season we were heartbroken for him. It was as though one of our own sons had been sidelined. Now that he is enjoying the honor that is so well deserved we find ourselves celebrating with him as well.

Jose Altuve has played his heart out all season long on the Houston Astros. When our city was so devastated he became a man with a mission. He was determined to work harder and better to bring a win to our town. He made it known that he and the team were unwilling to let us down. In perhaps the darkest hour that Houston has ever experienced he was a beacon of hope, a bookend for J.J. Watt.

Altuve too is a young man who works hard to be his very best both on and off of the baseball diamond. He is a team player who understands what he must do each time he walks up to the plate. Somehow he appears to be less concerned with personal acclaim and more focused on sharing his athletic brilliance with his fellow players and his fans. He understood all too well how much we needed the championship that had eluded us for decades, and on an evening when many were watching in rooms with concrete floors and only studs for walls he and his teammates took us to the Promised Land. We were as united as we had been back in August when we were working to help those affected by the storms, only this time we were deliriously happy. He gave us an unexpected gift and demonstrated that his heart was bigger than his entire body. In stature he is the exact twin of J.J. Watt.

Sometimes the universe appears to align in such a manner that the most deserving receive the awards. In a year punctuated by a great deal of suffering and ugliness it is refreshing to be reminded that there are still exceptionally talented and noble individuals in our midst. J.J. Watt and Jose Altuve are the role models that we need for our young. They are the heroes who rank with the legends. All of us in Houston are proud to embrace them as our own.

The Christmas lights in H Town are burning a bit brighter and with a bit more hopefulness. The world has been set aright for once. In their great wisdom the editors of Sports Illustrated have chosen two individuals who represent the very best of the human spirit. Our congratulations will never be enough to thank J.J. Watt and Jose Altuve for all that they have given us. They are heroes whose stories will be enshrined in the crazy history of this incredible town. The mere mention of their names will bring smiles to our faces as we will always remember how much they meant to us when things seemed so bleak. All of Houston will be forever grateful and strong.

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We Believed

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I sometimes wonder why anyone from some place else would choose to move to Houston, Texas. My father-in-law came to my hometown accidentally. He and a buddy were supposed to meet up at “U of H.” He forget to ask what the “H” stood for and a search of universities led him to believe that he needed to enroll at the University of Houston. After he had traveled here he went looking for his friend only to eventually find out at his pal was at the University of Hawaii. Things worked out well for him when he met my mother-in-law in the Cougar Den and they fell in love. He’s been here ever since.

My maternal grandfather came over as an immigrant from Austria-Hungary just before the outbreak of World War I. Houston was advertising all over Europe back then in an effort to entice workers who were needed for the growing community. Sometimes the flyers that they posted stretched the truth just a bit with photographs of beautiful mountains in the background that may have caught the interest of those thinking about relocating. Unfortunately they would soon enough learn that Houston was as flat as a pancake, but there were indeed jobs here which was probably more important to my grandfather than lovely landscapes. He too set down permanent roots. Eight of his children would be born in Houston and grow up on the east side of town. None of them ever left other than to fight a war. They purchased homes and raised families and grew old, always feeling great pride in a town that is not always understood by the rest of the world.

I first met Houston, Texas on the day of my birth in November, 1948. Not long after that my parents purchased a brand new home in the southeast part of town. My little world revolved around my town that did not yet have a population of even a million people. As I grew, so did the city and about the time that I was entering my teen years a professional baseball team that would play in the the National League came to town calling themselves the Colt .45s. They played in an outdoor stadium that attracted mosquitoes and tropical heat. None of that deterred those of us who were fans of baseball from buying cheap seats in the outfield for great entertainment on summer evenings. I suppose that it was way back then when I developed my love of the hometown boys of summer. Those were halcyon days that made us believe that we had our own field of dreams.

Eventually a local promoter named Judge Roy Hoffeinz came up with the seemingly ridiculous idea of building an indoor stadium that would keep us cool on even the hottest days with air conditioning and cushy seats. In the meantime as with most things related to guns the name of the team became controversial to some and in the end a compromise was made to change the name of the team to the Houston Astros. It seemed an apt title given that Houston was the center of the space exploration universe at about that time, and we had grown and grown as a city.

At first the big domed stadium that Hoffeinz built appeared to have been a boondoggle because the grass would not grow in the insulated environment. Not to be discouraged by a little problem, efforts were made to create an artificial turf that would become known as Astroturf. It worked and yet again Houston rose above it’s doubters, a trend that seems to be part of the city’s DNA.

Another major hiccup occurred when the glare of the sun on the roof made it almost impossible for the players to catch fly balls. They would look up and be blinded, a situation that was untenable in baseball. The laughing began anew but would not last for long as creative minds engineered ideas that eventually solved the problem. The Astrodome became known as the Eighth Wonder of the World, but the team itself was not quite as lauded. Still we loved our Houston Astros and attending a game was always a great treat. We watched the uniforms and the roster change as the owners and managers did their best to bring the city a winning season. We got close now and again, but much like the city itself there always seemed to be a bump in the road that brought us back to the reality that nobody in the world loved Houston and our Astros as much as those of us who lived here did.

I grew older and Houston grew bigger, while the Astrodome became a shadow of its former glorious self. We needed a new stadium to reflect the grandeur of our city and so we built a park on the site of the old train station where so many had first encountered Houston in their quest for a better life. Somehow it seemed a fitting place, especially to me because in the long ago my grandfather had lived in a rented room not far from where the stadium now stands. The team itself would flux and flow, sometimes seeming to be in reach of glory and at other times playing to near empty crowds while losing more games than any other team. Nonetheless there were those who kept the faith even in the leanest of times. It’s what we tend to do in Houston, a city built on impossibilities that somehow always became possible. After all, who would have thought that an inland city would one day boast one of the busiest ports in the country?

My mother led our clan in cheering the Astros through one season after another. She eventually became too old and weary to navigate the ramps and stairs at the ballpark but she never missed a game on the radio. Lying in the dark she let her imagination take her out to the ballgame. and her love for the Astros remained loyal and unabated. She knew every player’s name and stats. She offered armchair advice, and she taught us to be as true to our team as she was, something that was not always easy as we watched our shining moments come and go.

The colors of the uniforms changed as often as the roster of players. We went to the American League and had to become accustomed to a whole new group of opponents. We sometimes sat in the magnificent park with so my empty seats that I wondered how the owners were going to be able to pay to keep the lights operating. History plodded onward and we remembered our favorite players of old like Jose Cruz, Nolan Ryan and those wonderful “Killer Bs” who took us all the way to the World Series only to go down in flames in four games. Still, nothing could deter us from loving our Astros.

This season our beloved team showed sparks of brilliance again and again. We dared not hope that maybe, just maybe this would be Houston’s year as they took one victory after another. By August it was clear that they had a shot at history, but then a hurricane came to town leaving many of our citizens devastated by floodwaters. For a moment our attention was diverted from baseball and concentrated on saving and helping our neighbors. We wondered how we would ever move beyond the destruction and what would become of our city. We were as low as we have ever collectively been, but in the spirit of who we are we came together just as we always do. We demonstrated to the world what Houston is about. It became clear as we saw everyone pitching in to help why we truly want to live here.

Once we had gone back to school and work and the tasks of solving the problems made apparent by the storms, we looked up and noticed that the Astros were still on a trajectory to success. We watched as they moved forward and became the living symbol of all of our own hopes and dreams and beliefs about our town and its people. They drew us together just as the floods had done, only this time we felt happy. We loved them even more deeply for giving us this wonderful gift at the very time when we most needed it. Our city became intoxicated with Astros fever. We knew that we had all earned this moment in time. It somehow seemed inevitable that our team would win it all, and of course they did.

I’ve thought all the way back to those early days when everyone thought that the very idea of Houston was ridiculous. Nobody ever imagined that it would become the fourth largest metropolitan area in the country. Nobody believed that the baseball team in the crazy rainbow uniforms would ever amount to much. Nobody thought that we would be able to recover from the utter devastation that befell us only weeks ago. Most of the experts thought that once the Astros met with a team of the Dodgers’ caliber they would fold. Those of us who love Houston believed and believed and believed again and again and this time our team understood what they had to do. They won the World Series stunning those who just don’t understand how we Houstonians are. For those of us who live here, there was no mystery at all. Houston just might be the greatest place to live on planet earth and it has nothing to do with beauty or lack of problems and everything to do with its people. Thank you Astros for demonstrating the spirit of this grand city. We will never forget how wonderful you made us feel.

#earnhistory

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My mom was from the generation that grew up listening to the radio. Back in the day people tuned in to hear programs filled with illusions built from sounds and words. The listening experience was glorious with pictures painted in the mind’s eye by announcers and actors with versatile and mellow voices. Since news stories did not include photos or films the reporters had to describe the scene and the best of them created gloriously graphic images that allowed listeners to feel as though they were on the scene. The best sportscasters managed to outlined each play in a game in such vivid detail that those who followed the broadcast might just as well have been sitting on the fifty yard line or behind home plate. It was a glorious era when ordinary folk got up close and personal with the happenings in the world from the comfort of their living rooms.

Mama especially loved Sundays because those were the days when her family honored the sabbath with visits to church, a special family meal and time to listen to favorite programs on the radio. They would gather around and be swept away into worlds of adventure, information and sports. Afterwards her father would hold family meetings in which he iterated character lessons for his brood of eight children. He insisted on honesty, hard work, frugality, ethical behavior and love of country and family. My mother would always refer to the beliefs that he had instilled in her and to those glorious Sundays when they paused from the labors of the work week to indulge in entertainment and sporting fantasies.

In my earliest years as a child the radio was still the center of information and enjoyment in our home. I recall listening to The Lone Ranger and Texas A&M football games with my parents. Eventually my father brought home a television in a lovely mahogany cabinet that replaced the radio as the center of our entertainment needs, but somehow my mom never quite lost her love for the radio. Thus it was that she developed a lifelong taste for certain programming that she followed inside her car or her bedroom. Chief among her regular habits was listening to the Houston Astros baseball games, which she rarely missed season after season. She knew the stats of all of the players and served as an armchair coach offering advice to the air as though the team might actually hear her suggestions. She cheered and rejoiced in their victories, keeping the faith that they were the best team in the country. Even in the lean times she was never willing to give up on her boys of summer and she loved them as though they were members of her own family. She rarely had the money to purchase a ticket to see a game in person, but she had her radio and it was religiously tuned to the games.

You would have thought that Mama was a personal friend of Milo Hamilton, the voice of the Astros for decades. She thought that he was a gifted announcer and she sometimes quoted his pronouncements. She especially enjoyed discussing the games with her grandsons, Shawn and Ryan, and seemed particularly proud that Ryan was named for pitcher Nolan Ryan who thrilled her during his tenure as an Astros pitcher. She knew so many details about each competition that one might have thought that she had actually been present rather than merely a listener. She was entranced by the Astros. They were her team, the one group that she followed with the fanaticism of a true believer.

When she came to live with me in the last year of her life she insisted on having a radio in her bedroom, which my brother Pat provided for her. It was tuned the the Astros station and she knew their schedule by heart. Day or night she dropped whatever she had been doing to lie on the bed upstairs and listen to the games. Sometimes we would hear her cheers or her groans and always she would follow up with a blow by blow commentary peppered with optimism and sound advice for the players. She treasured no gift more than a ticket to one of the games, but by her final year on this earth it had become increasingly more difficult for her to navigate in the vastness of Minute Maid Park. She would grow tired quickly and so her radio allowed her to fully enjoy her most treasured pleasure without requiring her to expend her limited energy.

On the last day of her life my mother remembered that the Astros were playing. When my nephew Ryan came to the hospital to say his goodbyes she insisted that we turn on the television in the ICU. Of course she was unable to speak because there was a ventilating tube in her mouth. She simply motioned toward Ryan as though she was pitching a ball and we all understood what she wanted. It was a touching and very appropriate moment and watching her eyes light up with delight as she shared a final game with Ryan made her final hours as perfect as such a time might ever be.

I’ve thought of my mom all season long as the Houston Astros have proven to be a dominant force in the game of baseball. She would have been oh so proud of them. I can’t even imagine how frenetic her cheering would have been as they brought home the pennant with so much class and style. I’d like to think that she has a home plate seat in heaven and that she and Milo Hamilton have been celebrating the Astros’ victories together. If heaven is indeed  a place where everything is perfect then there has to be Astros baseball there for my mom. I suspect that she has told my dad all about the team that had not even existed when he died and converted him into a fan as avid as she always was. Mostly though I am quite happy that the Astros are truly the team that she always believed they would be.

We’ve had some very hard times here in Houston this year. Many of our friends and neighbors and relatives are still picking up the pieces of their broken lives after hurricane Harvey. Our city has been wounded, but we proved ourselves to be strong. We’ve had a quiet nervous breakdown together and our emotions are still very close to the surface. We cry easily as we think of all that we have endured. Somehow our Astros have been part of the community glue that has kept us focused on rebuilding an even better future. We became the bullpen for our glorious athletes who have brought us so much joy. Somehow it is fitting that the Astros would emerge as the symbol of who we Houstonians are. We celebrate their victories as our own. There is a new determination in Houston as we wish our Astros well as they meet the Los Angeles Dodgers. We are fighters and so are they. We are not willing to give up on our town or its teams. Now the world understands who we are.

An Unexpected Journey

coffee-plantIt was late on a Friday night, just after a Houston Astros baseball game and fireworks display. The crowd was a bit down because the hometown team had lost. Everyone was anxious to get home, and Houston’s congested streets weren’t cooperating. After waiting for what seemed to be forever we turned out of our parking garage needing to navigate instantly across four lanes of wall to wall cars. It became apparent soon enough that such a maneuver wasn’t going to happen. We were stuck and had to go in a direction that was the exact opposite of what we needed. Luckily I knew exactly what to do because the baseball park is located in the eastern end of downtown Houston, an area that I have known for all of my life.

My grandmother once lived only minutes away from where we were in a tiny house just off of Navigation. I had traversed these streets in the backseat of my mother’s car hundreds of times as she regaled me with the stories of her young life and the places that had been so much a part of her history. For most of my childhood this area had been rundown and a bit foreboding. There were often women of the night walking the littered streets or drunken men sipping brew out of bottles hidden in brown paper bags. The old train station was still there back then and Mama often boasted that she had taken a trip all the way to San Diego to visit a friend just after she graduated from high school. That had seemed a rather bold and daring thing to do, and I was proud of my mom’s adventurous spirit. I loved hearing about her youth and the history of east Houston where she had lived with her seven brothers and sisters. It had always been difficult for me to envision what that section of town had actually once been like because it seemed so abandoned and dreary by the time that I was going there.

Today Minute Maid Park, home of the Houston Astros, stands where the train station once dominated the area. In 1912, My grandfather rented a room in a long gone boarding house not far from the stadium before my grandmother arrived from Slovakia. Eventually he purchased a small parcel of land and built a home for his family just to the east of downtown. He had a variety of jobs before settling down at the Houston Packing Company located on Navigation making his commute from home a short one. A service station now stands where there were once pens filled with livestock waiting to be slaughtered.

On the night when we were forced by the traffic to head in the direction of my family’s old homestead I assured my husband that I knew exactly where I was going. Soon enough I was overcome with joy as the aroma of roasting coffee beans filled my nostrils. For the entirety of my childhood I had inhaled that delicious smell on Friday nights when we routinely went to visit my grandmother. It was always so lovely.

The whiff of coffee literally transported me back to a time when I ran and played with my cousins while our parents played penny ante poker as though they were in a Las Vegas competition vying for hundreds of thousands of dollars. In my mind’s eye I could once again see my grandmother padding across the worn wooden floors of her home in her bare feet carrying enameled cups of steaming hot coffee in her hands to offer her guests, including us children. She always smiled beatifically as she offered the brew filled with heaping mounds of sugar and milk. I thought of her saintly face and that sweet smile of satisfaction that she flashed when we sipped on the liquid without complaint. She always kept a big pot of the weak honey colored coffee on her stove, ready for any guests who arrived.

Grandma was ever a loving and generous hostess, and to me she was so beautiful with her blue eyes and her hair arranged in a long black pigtail that trailed down her back. She was not quite five feet tall and as round as Mrs. Santa Claus. She wore faded cotton dresses that she washed by hand and hung out to dry on a clothesline just outside of her back door. The only modern appliances that she owned were her refrigerator, a radio, a record player and a television which she never really watched. The T.V. was there mainly for entertaining two of her sons who still lived with her. She had been born in the nineteenth century and she remained very much a representative of a pre-modern era. Hers was a very simple life. She asked for little and used even less than she was given.

I never got to talk with my grandmother. She did not speak English and I did not speak Slovak. We communicated with facial expressions and hand signals. She called everyone either “pretty boy” or “pretty girl.” It was calming being with her, but I always wondered what she was thinking and what her own history had been. It would have been nice to know how she met my grandfather and what gave her the courage to follow him all the way to a new country, far away from her family and friends. According to one of my aunts she had once spoken enough English to work outside of the home but as her children were born she became more and more tied to her home and lost her ability to speak the words that were foreign to her. Oddly enough most of her children knew only enough Slovak to have the most basic interactions with her. My grandfather had insisted that they speak only English even at home so that they would be fully assimilated into American culture. Perhaps because of his rule not a single one of them had even a slight accent and few would realize that they had grown up with a mother who was unable to speak their tongue.

My husband and I relived my childhood days as we drove through the east Houston streets. I retold my history as we drove along. I gleefully pointed out Eastwood Park where my mother had once danced to the cheers of friends who admired her fancy footwork. I pointed out the building where we had often purchased groceries at Weingarten’s and the spot where we stopped for ice cream on the way home from our Friday night visits. We meandered over to Harrisburg where the new Metro line runs. There I witnessed gentrification efforts inside what had once been little shops where my mother purchased my school shoes and dresses for Sunday church. The Sears store where I first sat on Santa’s lap is gone, replaced by a gaudy strip mall without the elegance of the old department store. We flew past Immaculate Conception Catholic Church and I pointed to a venerable old structure that had at one time been a hospital. So much had changed and yet I felt that I was in familiar territory.

Our journey through my past was a serendipitous little gift for a brief moment in time. It cheered me to return to a place where I had not been for such a long time. My memories of being there will always be so pleasant and filled with so much love and belonging. My grandmother’s house is still is still there, crowded by businesses and industries that make it seem out of place. The new owners have cared for it, preserving its uniqueness. I think they would be quite surprised by the stories they would hear if those walls could talk. I wish that I might share with them how special it always was. Perhaps they already know.

The End of the Curse

chicago-cubs-world-series-slot-2016-10-22For a time my daughter and her husband lived on a corner in an apartment in Wrigleyville, a neighborhood in Chicago. It was a busy area right across the street from a tavern where locals always seemed to be celebrating something. The elevated train system was only steps away so the clattering noise of mass transit was just one of the everyday sounds that echoed through the open windows of their place. It sat on the top floor providing an excellent view of the shops and eateries nearby. It was an old school residence without an elevator or air conditioning. The walk from the ground floor on the steep steps provided an unadvertised perk of daily exercise. The apartment was small but quite lovely with its polished wooden floors and windows that allowed the sun to create a homey warmth. It had the kind of character that comes from tradition and age. My daughter somehow made do with the tiny kitchen that barely provided enough room for two people to stand. It lead to a small private stoop and a fire escape that fascinated me. Somehow it felt like a setting right out of a novel.

I am a creature of the wide open spaces of Texas who had only read of multistory housing in crowded urban settings. When I first heard where my daughter was living I secretly worried for her safety. Upon visiting her domain and actually walking through the neighborhood near her place I became enchanted. Everything about Wrigleyville was quite wonderful, even the raucous noise that filled the air each evening as revelers relaxed in the local bar across the street. I most enjoyed sitting at her dining table in a corner room with windows overlooking the expanse. I imagined being there day after day and finding inspiration for my writing. I was intoxicated by the sheer adventure of observing so much humanity.

The area was called Wrigleyville because the home of the Chicago Cubs baseball team stood proudly at the center of the residences and businesses. It was an easy walk from the apartment to the field so of course I wanted to attend one of the games but my first visit was in the winter so I had to wait until my return in the summer. I had no idea that I would fall in love with the Cubs when I first entered the stadium on a warm afternoon. Everything about the experience was wondrous. It seemed to me to be what baseball was supposed to be like. The fans were all decked out in their gear and the place was packed. The hot dogs were a gourmet delight so unlike the plastic almost inedible ones that I had tried back home. People sat on the tops of nearby buildings to catch the action without benefit of sound. The crowd was happy, cheering and totally into the game. I can’t recall a single time that I have had so much fun at a baseball game. Forevermore the Cubs would be my favorite team with the exception of my Houston Astros.

I heard all about the curse that had once been placed on the Cubs by a local tavern owner who became incensed when he and his goat were turned away from the stadium back in 1948. I tend to be a believer in such things since I am sometimes a bit of a jinx myself. I’ve been known to turn the victorious tide of a sporting event just by my mere presence. I take such matters quite seriously. Somehow the whole idea that the Cubs were the victim of black magic seemed to be confirmed a few years back when they were on the road to finally ending their drought when a fluke play shattered their dreams. I just happened to be visiting my daughter at that time and watched in shock as a fan reached out from the stands and caught a fly ball before one of the players had the opportunity to force an out. I vividly recall how stunned we were as we realized that the Cub’s dreams had gone up in flames.

The apartment where my daughter lived caught on fire one evening. One of the residents had fallen asleep while burning a candle which eventually touched off a blaze that filled the entire building with smoke and flames. Luckily everyone escaped with only minor injuries but the firefighters had to vent the roof to control the burn and almost everything that my daughter owned was ruined by falling debris, smoke, and water. She was expecting twins at the time and decided that perhaps it was time to move to a place with more green space and so she left Wrigleyville but not without a heavy heart. We would all think back on that lovely place for years to come and reminisce about those Cubs games and the walks down tree lined avenues.

Eventually she and her family moved back to Texas taking memories with them that never grew dim. Year after year we all rooted for the Cubs but saw our hopes dashed again and again. Then came the news that they were going to the World Series. Prognosticators boldly pronounced that they were the underdogs in the matchup and I feared that something would surely go wrong in their quest to end the curse and become victorious. Slowly but surely they proved everyone wrong in one of the most exciting battles in decades, going back and forth with the Cleveland Indians until it was game number seven and they had to lay everything that they had on the line.

I had butterflies in my stomach all last night and did my best not to somehow influence the outcome of the game with my thinking. I busied myself and tried not to become too overjoyed when they held the lead for so long. When the game tied up near the end I held back the negative thoughts that clouded my mind. A delay of the game due to rain made me want to panic but I instead remained calm. I wondered if there had ever before been such a build up of tension in such a major contest. Then it happened. The Cubs won the pennant. After one hundred eight years they had finally done it.

I can almost hear the cheering in the tavern that still stands across from where my daughter once lived. I can see the smiles on the faces of the people of Chicago as they ride the trains to work and school. I want to walk down the street and celebrate with them. I want to eat a hotdog and wear a blue shirt. In a time filled with so much negativity and uncertainty it feels so good to have a grand reason to shout with joy. The Cubbies have shown us all how to keep the faith. I for one rejoice.