On my odd island of tranquility

Tonight, Niece A was playing softball in a tournament on the field where I played for Rosenfeldt Insurance for two years as a child. I think that by the time I was her age I had abandoned my role as backup right fielder and was doing marching band in summer, but Niece A is far more athletic than anyone in her extended family on either side for at least two generations. Both sides turned out for this game, and we kept saying, “She caught the ball!” and looking at each other in astonishment. She was promoted to U14 tonight (she’s usually on U12), and she made three outs for her team, catching perfectly every time a fly ball went to left field, but she couldn’t hit against U14 pitching. Two strikeouts in two at-bats. She was frustrated with herself and when I said, “But you caught the ball, A!” she looked at me with pity.

When I’m here I often feel like I’m living in a movie about small town America and tonight would have been the perfect opportunity to film it. The smell of grilling hotdogs and hamburgers (and, because it’s Wisconsin, bratwurst) wafted across the diamond while we were watching and the teams trooped across the highway for a cone after the game. Men with beer cans were standing on the sides of the field, commenting on their daughters’ games. The crowd was all families of the players and though we cheered throughout the game for our own teams, at the end, when the girls were high fiving the other team, we also turned to the people next to us whose kids were on the other side and said, “Good game.” The sun was falling beautifully over the park and the biggest danger to any spectator were the (many) foul balls. (Next time I am wearing a helmet.) People were talking about their gardens, and the Catfish Races and associated concert this weekend, and the rain, and work, and the usual stuff. There were families picnicking in the park and in the pavilion. Crowds of little boys were running around screaming and a gaggle of older kids were lounging on their bikes and popping wheelies. I saw a few people I know and a few more people that look so much like people I knew as a child that I did a double take. There must have been mosquitoes out but none bit me.

It’s not perfect, even in my family, and I felt that tonight, just as I know that under this idyllic mask there’s more than enough trouble to occupy all these families. I know that as rosy as things look now, all these beautiful, sporty young women will have their own share of problems in the future, because life is like that. The region, too, has its particular social problems that we know about and don’t discuss. Still the shootings of the last two days are far away from us, let alone Brexit, and when my SIL’s father said to me tonight, “You look a little sad,” and I said, “Yeah, the news has got me down,” he said, “What news?”

That’s why we jokingly call it the Happy Valley. I don’t begrudge all of us who live here any of the things we enjoy. And I know that that happiness is grounded in a level of homogeneity that would suffocate the average city dweller. Not all that much happens here and most of us like it fine that way. I just wish that we could give this level of security to every child growing up in the U.S. whose family wants it. I wish that my privilege extended to everyone. I think we have enough to share.

~ by Servetus on July 9, 2016.

22 Responses to “On my odd island of tranquility”

  1. I feel I could be there with you. Beautifully written, thank you. And I wish all those things for our world, too.


  2. Wow, hatte gerade ein deja-vu: Softball und Marching-Band. Allerdings nicht Nichte A sondern Tochter A 😀 Exakt ihr Programm, als sie ihr Jahr in Illinois an der Highschool verbracht hat.
    Re. sad: die Masse an Informationen über Vorkommnisse anderswo ist tatsächlich eine schwere Bürde! Es lebt sich wahrhaft ruhiger, wenn man ein wenig ignoranter durch die Welt geht. Ich bin auch oft geneigt, bei den Nachrichten wegzuhören. Was natürlich blöd und (s.o.) ignorant ist. Und wer will schon ignorant sein! Was ich total ausblende sind allerdings Meldungen aus der Revolverpresse und ähnlichen Formaten. Denen gebe ich keinen Raum in meinem Bewusstsein.
    Wünsche dir ein ruhiges WE.


    • yeah, this is the typical Midwestern summer program. We now have game 2 behind us … one more game this afternoon, I think.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Your island sounds wonderful. It is nice to know such places still exist. The news is so depressing on so many fronts, it’s easy to forget kids still play baseball in sunny parks and have fun on their bikes. Thanks for the trip to an oasis of calm.


  4. Comme vous j’ai remarqué que la majorité des gens de la rue, en France, évacue de leurs préoccupations quotidiennes les souffrances, qui leurs sont éloignées géographiquement. Surement par manque d’intérêt, par ignorance, ou bien pour se protéger ils construisent une barrière d’indifférence autour d’eux. De plus, trop d’attentats engendre une notion de banalisation. Aucun décès n’est banal pour moi, quel que soit l’endroit où il se trouve et quel que soit la victime. De plus internet et le travail en milieu médical n’arrivent pas à blinder ma compassion, sans pour autant augmenter une sensiblerie, qui pourrait devenir exacerbée voire maladive.. Nous aurions besoin de relire Boris Cyrulnik, qui parle de notion de résilience. Il faut réussir à intégrer le malheur pour aller de l’avant.
    Autour de moi le discours ambiant est axé sur le football, ou “le Mans Classic”. Cette année encore beaucoup d’anglais, de voitures de luxe, pas de problème pécunier à cause du Brexit pour ces personnes très argentées. Cette vitrine sur le luxe est incroyable, et m’étonne chaque année toujours autant


    • The economic well-being around here, helps, too. It’s not the richest part of the world by any means but true poverty is well-hidden.


  5. Poignant. I wish it were possible too.


    • I keep reminding myself that not everyone would want to live this way. But there could be a happy medium.


  6. Reading your post just made me feel I was watching an American movie. A nice, happy ending, fool of joy and peaceful American movie… It made me smile. Thank you!


  7. That was lovely. No one wants you to feel guilty for being able to enjoy such an evening. We, like you just wish that ALL the kids could live in such a place.


  8. Ah a beautiful picture of summer and what life and normality can be. I dont think i could live it but it is beautiful in its own way… just like i live country houses with little gardens and flowers until i realise that they are hard work too 😊still its a nice place for kids to grow up in I really really miss barbecues and the garden/green


  9. Such beautiful imagery—and such a balm right now. The news is so caustic lately that it’s good to be reminded that there is peace to be had in places, even if it’s ephemeral.


  10. Aww, lovely! Yeah, just like a sweet movie scene… 🙂


  11. […] to cheer them on, I went to all the home games. This is the third sport (after basketball and softball) I’ve watched Niece A and now, Niece B, who’s old enough for interscholastic sports, […]


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