It’s been less than 24 hours since the Chicago Cubs won the 2016 World Series. Most of you know this. I’ve certainly lived with that news in my blood for every hour since then. It’s been something like a rendering of heaven.
This is a picture of me celebrating the victory last night—probably around 1am or so.
I’m no actor. That is a real face. My real face. In all of its vulnerability and honesty, its joy and curiosity. It’s a captured moment of the purest disbelief I’ve ever mustered. An inability to fully comprehend that a day I’ve always dreamt of has become a glowing, warm November reality.
It is a face of my 5-year-old self meeting my 16-year-old self smashing quantum into my 28-year-old self.
The 5-year-old is the boy who first sees Wrigley Field. Who sits next to his dad and grandfather on an April day. Who gets an official game program and learns to track batters and bases. To watch the game through observation and not passivity. That Wrigley is a special place. Open-air, unlike the United Center and those winning Bulls. Green and wide. Fully of 7th inning singers and those great radio voices that would lull me to sleep so many nights of my childhood.
The 16-year-old is a teenager who gets a summer job selling hot dogs and peanuts and coke at Wrigley Field. Who drives each day to Evanston or Skokie to take the L into the city and learns the stops on the red line until Addison. The 16-year-old works hard but not too hard, catching long looks at the game. Learning to watch the game through cheering and jubilation only to find exhaustion back on that long red line journey back up north. That Wrigley is a special place. Not a highway near it, tucked into its pocket of this old city. No parking lot, not like those other stadiums with their insane stretches of gravel. Putting on those after-game radio voices to remind him of childhood.
The 28-year-old is the me of yesterday. The one who doesn’t always appreciate the wonder of his home city. Who loved seeing the Cubs hats in Seoul, in Rome, in Vancouver, but forgets to love it here. Here where it all matters. Whose first stop on any out-of-towners tour of Chicago is Wrigley Field. Who won’t jinx the franchise because he’s been burnt before. Who bought a baseball yesterday just to grip at the seams when things got too nerve-wrecking. And they did. Who learned that Chicagoans celebrate this day we’ve always wide-eyed about with hugs and high-fives, not destruction. That Wrigley is a special place because it will be home to these Cubs. These world champions.
I still have that program from 1993. I still have my vendor uniform from 2004. I’ll always have last night.