Maybe a few minutes after my wife and I made it home from four days of travel and a subsequent fast fast-food run nearing sundown Tuesday, I turned on the Dodger game. Though I had kept up with the Dodgers while I was away, only in the final moments before this game did I realize that Clayton Kershaw would be pitching.
I rushed to announce the latest Kershaw sequel, and then we sat down with Youngest Master Weisman in front of the television.
Honestly, my interest in the game, even this game, was primarily to watch Kershaw. I wrote about this a couple months back in one of my rare 2022 Dodger Thoughts posts (Full disclosure: I had thoughts about making my farewell to Vin post my final one ever on the site, as the true completion of a journey, but it was unlikely I would never want to write anything here again. And as it follows here I am.)
Anyway, here’s how that previous post ended:
Clayton Kerhsaw, Los Angeles Dodger. Nothing, not one thing, in my baseball universe matters more.
It was true. I had some TV I wanted to catch up on, so I planned to watch all of Kershaw’s start, and then probably switch from the game to a show. That’s what mattered to me.
More than a division title, I’ve been fascinated by the Dodgers pursuit of a record number of victories, for the franchise, the National League and the major leagues. With each win, I’m beguiled. I almost never hear anyone talk about, for example, the Dodgers only need to go 2-19 over the remaining 21 games of the season to win 100. That is ridiculous. That’s a downhill stroll to the top of K2.
But only after the game began was I reminded that the Dodgers could win the National League West title this night with a victory. I think they call that burying the lede. But still, after Kershaw went his crisp seven innings (with only a third-inning single preventing him from taking a no-hitter past the sixth for the third time this season), I did turn away from the game — even knowing that with a 4-0 Dodger lead, this was probably Clinch Night.
Not before sending these other tweets, by the way:
In his past 50 starts, Clayton Kershaw has walked 48 batters.
— Jon Weisman (@jonweisman) September 14, 2022
I kept the MLB app open so I could keep track of what the Dodgers were doing, and when Craig Kimbrel got the first two outs in the bottom of the ninth, I did turn the game back on. I saw the final out, saw Kershaw smile himself over the dugout railing, watched maybe 60 seconds of the celebration and none of the clubhouse confab before going back to my show.
For years, as much as anyone in the world, I’d say, I have preached the importance of celebrating achievements in the moment. If you’ve followed me at all, you know I have never bought into the idea that division titles, for example, don’t matter if the Dodgers don’t win the World Series. I want them to win the World Series, but it’s not all-or-nothing.
And yet, here was evidence that I had become as jaded as anyone. I only gave this title a couple minutes of my time.
I thought about that some last night and this morning.
* * *
The trip my wife and I returned from was to drop Young Miss Weisman and Young Master Weisman at college. Improbably and unexpectedly, they are both going to the same school — one a junior, one a freshman. I had expected this to be an easier time than I had dropping off my daughter in college for freshman year. We were under intense pressure at that time because her arrival came in the snows of January because of the pandemic, which had imprisoned her in misery at home for the fall quarter of her first year. Isolation is no way to begin for a freshman theater major.
Since then, I had said goodbyes to her more than once, and each of those had become a tad less fraught.
However, during the weeks that my daughter was home this summer, we had the absolute best time. It was nothing short of bliss. It’s apples-oranges to make comparisons between now and her childhood, but I just don’t think we have shared as much joy, enthusiasm and connection as … well, equals. I knew I was going to miss that terribly.
Sunday evening, as the sky’s palette dissolved from a sky-cloud blend into black, we built an Ikea bed for her in the off-campus apartment she is renting with two roommates. By choice, she did almost all the work and I mainly watched, chipping in only when there were two-person jobs to do. I never had so much fun in my life within 20 feet of that pernicious Allen wrench.
As for my son, it pains me to admit this and I’m not sure why I am or whether I should, but our relationship has been contentious off and on for the past year. Not in a deep-rooted way as much as some regular spats during which each of us has thought the other to be, I don’t know, insane. I had the thought — and it hurts my brain and heart even as I think of it now — that maybe we could both use some space from each other.
And yet on Monday, a day after all the Target and Bed Bath & Beyond shopping to prepare, we brought him to campus, met his roommate, helped him set up his room a bit, went back down to our rental car to say our unvarnished goodbyes … and I lost it.
I fell hard into tears. I hugged him, as tightly I think as I’ve ever hugged him, and didn’t want to let go. I only stopped when I couldn’t bear it any longer. I’m tearing up thinking about it now.
It’s another apples-oranges thing, but there was a thread of connection with Vin’s passing. I’ve known this farewell to my oldest son was coming for months, years. And yet I was completely unprepared.
As I type this today, I’m remembering that we even fought last week on his last night in Los Angeles, about dinner plans that went awry. I was posturing that there was nothing we could do, and he was arguing that there should have been something. Unlike previous fights that seemed to go on endlessly, this one slammed to a stop — to his credit, entirely, when he made it clear (in a way that should have been obvious to me, but I’m an idiot) that this was about more than a farewell dinner. I went to hug him, apologetically. I hugged him and his sadness, in a way that honestly couldn’t have made me happier. I think he felt the same way. A year’s worth of battles had ended in a reconnection.
I had the idea that this was the catharsis that would ease my letting him go in the healthiest way possible. Instead, it only left me wanting more. It’s my faith in his ability to make friends and his voracious appetite for experiences that is buoying me today.
That night, it was time to say goodbye to Young Miss Weisman. Surely, before her third year of college, this would be easier. It barely was. She cried, catching me off guard — she cried I think because she loved her time at home this summer every bit as much as my wife and I did. And so I lost it again.
I reflected on this during the flight home, while I was trying to think of similarly joyous memories with my children (including Youngest Master Weisman, a constant source of happiness who is now home without his siblings — but also enjoying having a bedroom that he doesn’t have to share with his brother for the first time). I was having trouble in a way that disturbed me. The moments where I did wrong by them came back to me much more easily than the events of pure glee. Much of the happiness I remember is sustained by thousands of photos and videos on my phone. I don’t need visuals to remember when I was a bad parent.
Don’t get me wrong: I do have great memories and there are always more to find. But sometimes, it takes more work to remember than I want it to. Memory is evanescent.
What do I hope to remember from this day forward, of my children or of my baseball team? Good and bad, alike. Thrills and disappointments. Every win matters to me. But either way, it’s less about the kinds of things you write about in record books or would find in Wikipedia entries — graduations, pennants — than the softer moments that I loved so deeply, even if they mattered hardly at all as clinical history.
I am not jaded. I live in quiet desperation for the next moment of bliss, even if it is mission impossible to retain it, self-destructing in five seconds.
From 2022’s NL West title celebration, I’ll remember nothing more than Kershaw climbing over the dugout railing.
From the farewells to my college kids, I’ll remember nothing less than the love I felt while letting go.