Rollin

Holy wow – After that ridiculously long countdown to real summer, we have just two weeks before the Herd heads back to school. (insert bad words here) Where in the ever lovin where did summer go?

We’ve had an incredibly busy, super fun summer, but it has flown by. We’ve rolled from one thing right into the next, or at least I have. School finally ended for Little Man. The following Monday, he started tech camp. Big Man and the Princess were never really “off” as – I may have mentioned this before – high school sports continue to practice through summer. The last day of tech camp, we went to the showcase presentation, and then hit the road for Palm Springs. We spent four glorious days poolside, hanging out with our friends and neighbors who joined us, eating, drinking, sunbathing, reading, playing games, and golfing.  It was HOT, but we don’t care when we’re there. We’re in or right next to the pool all day long.

I was home for 1.5 days, then left for my summer scrapbooking retreat in  Big Bear. In four days there, I managed to finish my 2015 book, as well as our Spring Break Utah trip book. (pats self on back) It was much-needed momma time with friends. We walked by the lake each morning, talked, ate, laughed, and scrapbooked. The only bummer was our usual massage therapist wasn’t able to be there due to injury. I’d so been looking forward to that 90-minute massage. Sigh….other than that, it was a beautiful weekend.

After Big Bear, I spent three days running around like a crazed person, getting the house ready for a cousin invasion. Nine of them began arriving on Wednesday. They trickled in until Saturday, when we had everyone here. Did I mention that was also recital weekend? Yeah, that. We had five fun-filled, busy days. Oh, I won’t lie – we did take plenty of time to sit in or next to our pool, but we were definitely on the go for much of the time.

The day after cousins left, my bestie and her four teens arrived for a week-long visit. We didn’t really stop from the minute they arrived, but oh my…..so much fun! We forget how awesome our city is until people are here and we’re taking them all over. We hit Mission Beach, they kayaked La Jolla Cove, we went to the movies, spent a day in Coronado (on the beach and at the beach bar at the Hotel Del where there was a Norman Reedus (aka Daryl from Walking Dead) sighting (it was ComiCon weekend in San Diego and a bunch of stars were staying at the Hotel), watched the ponies race in Del Mar, golfed our club (K and I rode along while our spouses golfed), went wine tasting in Ramona (you get premium service when your FIL is the President of the Ramona Valley Vintner Association), and took in a Padres game. Yes, all of that. The day they left, I had a work event. I got home that evening and absolutely crashed.

This is the longest break we’ve had all summer……and I leave tomorrow for five days in Chicago. More fun…..a day a Lollapalooza, some beach time if the weather permits, and a Cubs game, not to mention more time (sans children this visit) with the bestie! Then I’ll be home for two days before we leave for a long weekend at my parents’ in Phoenix. We’re home from that trip for two days and the kids go back to school.

Are you tired? Cuz I’m tired. We’ve blasted through this summer, rollin from one fun thing to the next. I think I need a summer to recover from this summer. We’ve had pool time, bbq’s, baseball games, beach days, and movies. We’ve spent time with family and friends. We’ve soaked it all in, taking full advantage of every minute. I can’t believe it’s ending in two weeks, and we’ll be in for another long haul of a school year. I’ll put the pool towels and basket of sunscreen away, tuck the beach chairs onto their hooks in the garage, stow the cornhole game in its case, and say goodbye to summer 2017.

Chicago

One of the stations on my Pandora is summer hits from the 80’s. Oh yes, I am a child of the 80’s – and I’m both embarrassed and proud of it. Those songs just take me back, full of memories of hot summer days in the pool, road trips, talking with my brother in his room, high school dances, bus rides to basketball games, and hanging out with my bestie.

The bestie – we had our favorites, but our go-to was Chicago (think Hard to Say I’m Sorry, Love Me Tomorrow, Hard Habit to Break, You’re the Inspiration), particularly when one of us had had her heartbroken, or was going through yet another unrequited crush. I can see her bedroom where we would study while cassette tapes played in the background. When Chicago songs came on, we’d stop what we were doing, and sing along as loudly as possible.  I’m sure her mom LOVED that. We had the use of her neighbor’s pool one summer. I remember laying on the hot concrete, talking about whatever teenage girls talk about, and Chicago music playing.

I’ve had the chance to see Chicago in concert twice – once with Peter Cetera still at the lead, and once after he’d left. They were fabulous, although my boyfriend at the time of that second concert just didn’t get the attraction. But that music is part of me, entangled in the memories of my becoming years.

Anyways, when Chicago comes on, I see my bestie’s face, and I hear her voice. All the memories come floating up – the walks home from school, the homework sessions, youth group, summer and winter camp, driving to and from youth symphony, Asilomar Leadership conferences, the long talks about boys, life, family, God, future, past. I don’t know if she knows just how much she helped shaped me, my high school career, where I went to college, who I became. But when I hear Chicago songs, I think of her, I smile, and I sing along, as loudly as possible.

Wrigley

One of my bucket-list items is to go to a game at every Major League ballpark. I haven’t made it too far in this endeavor – O.Co Coliseum (Oakland), AT&T in San Francisco, Chase Field in Phoenix, Petco here in San Diego, Angels Stadium in Anaheim, Chavez Ravine in LA, and Fenway have all been covered. I have some traveling to do, right?

A few weeks back, I made my seventh visit to Chicago. In all those visits, I’d never been to Wrigley, nor to US Cellular Field. When talk turned to a Cubs game, I was all in. And so, on my last full day in Chicago this time out, we jumped on the train and headed to Wrigley.

I’ve grown up going to baseball games. I can’t count the number of times I’ve walked into a stadium. But there’s nothing like a ballpark in the middle of a town/city, nor is there anything like a ballpark that holds history such as Fenway or Wrigley. When we went to Fenway in 1999, I almost passed out with excitement as we walked up to the back side of the Green Monster. Fairly sure I had that same look when I had my first glimpse of Wrigley from the train, much less as we walked up to the famous Cubs marquee.

Cubs Marquee

Spouse describes Wrigley as “a dump”.  Yeah, there are much newer, much nicer ballparks around. But new doesn’t have the history of old. I can’t go to Petco and imagine Babe Ruth playing there. Wrigley is old. It has the old style to it. The bathrooms are small. There’s a different smell entirely. But let me just tell you, when we walked up the steps, out into the stands, and I saw the field for the first time, my  heart raced, and I took a deep breath, smelling the grass, the leather, the heat, the hot dogs, the beer.

In an old ballpark, the sounds of the game are intensified. Bat hitting ball, ball hitting glove, the crowd singing “Take me Out to the Ballgame”, the calls of “Ball!” and “Strike!”…..they just don’t sound the same as they do in a new park. There’s a measure of tradition that goes with the history in an old ballpark. My A’s have *only* been around since the 60’s. The Cubs have been around since the beginning of baseball. I looked around at EVERYONE wearing their Cubs gear. I stared at the field where countless legends have played. I saw the scoreboard I’d only ever seen on television before. I watched the fans in the seats on top of the buildings around the park. I ate a Chicago-style hotdog. I recalled watching the Cubs BEFORE they had lights at Wrigley.  I took it all in.

The Cubs didn’t win the game, but the loss wasn’t without excitement. There were two calls challenged. There was a lot of yelling. The entire stadium sang Take Me Out during the 7th Inning Stretch. I bought gifts for the kids and my Cubs-loving Spouse. The Cubs came up with too little, too late. But oh man, it went down as one of the best days of my life. This baseball fan lived a dream for a few hours in Chicago.

The famous scoreboardWelcome to Wrigley