Divorce and the Game of Basebal

June 05, 2007 | WNST Interns

I don’t know why but, yesterday, I wrote this piece.  Maybe it was the rain.  I don’t know exactly.  Some of you may think this piece is too gloomy for a sports radio website, or worse, maudlin. But if blogging is supposed to be about human experience and emotions and a living diary of who we are, I think this qualifies. I hope so.

I watch baseball games while drinking in bars a lot these days. Mostly it’s bars in the restaurants that sponsor our show.  But I don’t do it just to be supportive.  I do it because I need to watch sports with other people.  I’m single again. And I have been for almost a year.  Although sometimes it feels like it’s just been two days.  I was never divorced.  Not in the legal sense.  My ex and I were never married.  We lived together- me and the Russian Assassin.  I call her that now though there was a time when I had much sweeter pet names for her.  Until she left one day for no real reason other than that she felt like it.  She said we weren’t "working out". That our "communication patterns" were too different.   Trust me when I tell you, as soon as phrases like "communication patterns" enter the relationship, start packing. 

Or the word "boundaries".  Boundaries belong in sports, war and geology- not relationships. 

But she’s right. Our communication patterns were different.  I spoke like a grownup and wanted to talk about things that might help make the relationship stronger when I sensed there was trouble.  She spoke like a child, if at all, and avoided ANY conversation about anything of substance. 

She left with very little warning.  Or I chose to ignore those warnings. 

I think that’s more the case.  But I had reason to ignore and to try to remain hopeful.  We were raising her one and a half year old son together.  I gave him his first room.  I bought him many of his first toys.  I bathed him sometimes.  I fed him.  I put on his diaper, his clothes and his pajamas.  I made up stories for him at bedtime about flying motorcycles and a pair of little boy’s socks that could talk.  He called me "papa" sometimes or "my Marky".  I was his father. 

His real father was in Ukraine somewhere doing drugs and drinking.  He didn’t seem to have any interest in his young son at all.  I did.  I loved him no differently than had he been my own. But she took him.  A few days before she left I bought a plastic batting tee for him.  We never got to play with it together.  I struggle with those memories every day.

I’m sure many of you have your own stories.  You’ve been divorced.  Or you’re separated.   You see your children on weekends or, as in the case of my father when Andrew and I were young, every other weekend. It’s not easy.  For me, I have no legal rights.  She refuses to acknowledge the significance of our relationship or that she asked me to be the little boy’s father, encouraged it.  Because it’s more convenient that way.  She wants him to forget me.  And so he’s lost to me forever. 

And so I drink and watch baseball in bars a lot now.  Because, regardless of what Simon and Garfunkel say, the "sounds of silence" aren’t an old friend, they’re a reminder of utter loneliness.  In the bars I go to people cheer when the Orioles score or Nick Markakis dives over the right field wall to take away a home run.  And then we talk about the play. These people have become my friends.  They ask me how I’m doing.  I lie and say I’m fine.

Mostly I have half my brain on the ballgame while the other half still tries to figure out why she left- even though I know it’s an exercise in futility.  She left because that’s what she does.  Because she’s done it before. It’s a choice she makes again and again. Like when Melvin Mora chooses to try and score from third and is thrown out at the plate by eight feet or Perlozzo pulls a pitcher too early and the reliever blows the lead.  The difference is those choices only affect one game.  Her choices affected three lives. 

So I sit in bars and watch baseball and wonder if he ever thinks of me. I hope he doesn’t.  I wouldn’t want him to miss me.  I’ll do that for both of us.

I guess this is the part where I’m supposed to write about the therapeutic power of baseball. About how baseball, as a symbol of our youth, can transport us to happier times.  But I’m too cynical for that right now. Although being around people who like baseball does help because… 

Chris Ray just gave up a two-run walk off homer to Guerrero and so it’s time to commiserate with my new friends, the ones who help keep the silence away.

Do you have any thoughts about this?  Divorce stories you feel comfortable sharing?  Baseball memories that helped you deal with the pain of loss?  Strictly confidential if you prefer.. email me at fightingungers@wnst.net

Oh, and now that I’ve put everyone into a state of severe depression you can check out my comedy at www.myspace.com/marcunger