Friday, November 4, 2016

Watching the Cubs (A Thank You)

Those first few months in Costa Rica were especially lonely for me.  It was 1985 and we had moved to San Jose with our three young children for a year of language school. I had looked forward to this year with excitement, but I hadn't anticipated the homesickness.  That was something I hadn't known since my first year of college when I'd moved 900 miles from home.  I remember crying into my pillow at night while missing my parents and siblings back in New York.  But I was a grown-up now and had Larry and the kids, and even though I no longer cried into my pillow, I felt a sadness and longing for the things I'd left behind.  I missed my family and my church and the things most familiar to me. And in the midst of long vocabulary lists and Spanish conjugations, struggling to be understood in a new culture, I missed my language. I missed my English.

Larry didn't see the need for it much, but when one of the students at the language school posted that they had a small black and white television for sale, I asked Larry if we could buy it.  I had it in the back of my mind that if I listened to it enough it might help improve my Spanish.  We set it up in the living room, raised the antenna and plugged it in.   I don't remember how many stations there were,  just a few I think.  But as I turned the nob for the first time,  I was startled to hear the voice of an American announcer coming out of that square box.  I peered at the screen and there in the corner I saw the letters WGN.  I'd never heard of it, had no idea where it was coming from.  All I knew was that we had an English station and I felt like I'd received a gift from Heaven.

We never were able to find out who was responsible for giving us this one lone American station, but it became my lifeline to home.  Well, home as in Chicago, but that was certainly close enough.  Since my intent for buying the TV set in the first place had been to improve my language skills,  I'd sometimes watch the soaps coming out of Mexico in the evening.  But in the afternoon after my studies were over I'd often turn the dial to WGN and would watch the Chicago Cubs.

That year turned out to be one of the best of my life, an adventure beyond anything I could have ever imagined for me and my family. The day that signal first came into our Costa Rican living room connected me to those things that had felt so far away.  Everything seemed much closer after that.         

I hadn't watched a World Series all the way through in probably over 25 years.  Until now.  When I knew that Chicago was playing for the Title, I knew I couldn't miss it.  I watched all seven games and stayed up into the morning hours to celebrate with the team via my large flat-screen televised in living color, quite a change from thirty years ago.  I needed to do it, wanted to do it.  I guess it was just my way of saying thank you.