Take me down to the ball game. A sea of red shirted Cardinal fans, mushing peanuts and mopping up the chemical orange cheese spill in their thin cardboard nacho box. Dessicated peanut pieces gather under foot as balls are pitched- only half the crowd are watching at any time. The fireworks explode in glittertrail whistlebangs when Pujols hits a home run, as he inevitably does, because he is Pujols. Foul balls hit flyers and a crowd scramble to get it for a trophy and the glory. We must cheer and do the Mexican wave, pepped on by the famous ballgame organ ascending and accelerating to the dadada-da-dada. Up in the rafters we chatter and giggle (arousing jealousy and bitching, heaven forbid someone has a conversation) and carouse the night away, until we seek the ice cream at Ted Drews before we ride the metro along quiet routes, where the North Carolinans are lost and jesting with the ticket collector. They're riding for fun, they only have cars where they live. A long way from home for Americans. The crowds are huge outside the ice cream parlour. A post game tradition, a right.
We stay up forever, talking and talking, but mainly watching television, films and fighting. I am so weak. The puppies follow us and yowl howl bark at the moon. These nights fill me with nostalgia for past nights where we did just this on past nights where we laughed and sparked electric shocks between on invisible networks. Those past nights were beautiful. Trembles in my knees at the very memory. My lips curl upwards, wide smile splitting my face in two, cleaved. We are surrounded by photos of poses, families together for one moment to plaster their smiles and play nice. You can read the arguments in the stress lines, the bickering written into a sly smile. Tokens of unity, like the red shirts the crowd wear as they wander into Busch Stadium, munching peanuts and mopping up the chemical orange cheese spill in their thin cardboard nacho box.
Fuck, I'm already nostalgic. The old boat pooters around the lake post fuel change, rocking in the bow waves and moving towards the sunset, a burning orangeyellow heading towards a splashdown scattering sparkling glints over the water. The grandparents ask us questions, always curious about the differences an ocean makes. Frat boys ride the surface of the water, dragging a barefoot skier a-whooping and a-hollering. O, there's Nelly's old lakehouse. It's hard to see why the ninth best place to live in America isn't the first best place. Steps lead from mansions down to jetties where purple paddle boats are moored, all of it wooded, the stone hidden opulence just behind. This is the dream, isn't it? The aspiration and the aim. One day we will own a house on Lake Charles. If we save up, cut back, and hope.
The fire pit is spitting with its logs red hot spilling ash into the bottom. These things don't change. Ghost stories are told, and the smores are filling, marshmallows flame grilled into gloop. Insects bite your legs, but it doesn't matter anymore. Sacred nights, where we watch the firebugs frighten young babies. The grandparents bring out the blackberry pie and the ice cream. I lost it back there. Is this how Americans live, or is this the ideal, what they feed the visitors? My expectations are exceeded. This is one of those days, the ones you remember when you're alone at night and you think back to your happiest moments and you smile on full beam because this was it, you romantic old sod, this was it.
The old rope swing and the hammock in the trees where you swung and stared at the stars through the leafy green trees. Talking til five in the morning about all the world's nothings, closeted together and the soul's warm drunk swoon in inebriated flophouse fall. Talking shorthand while the dogs chase each other and howl at the moon because of the wolf blood and you eat eat eat as they feed you up still exhausted from the road and this was it, this was always it. You file it away in that compartment of your memory to draw on when you need it. You always need it.