Work-for-free-preseason was over for Anthony, and opening day was finally upon us. I breathed a sigh of relief waking up that morning knowing that we were on our way to earning a second income again, and shuffled out of bed to start my work day. I sat down in my home office, which consisted of a simple, glass desk from Staples, a bookshelf from Target, and a plastic folding chair from the RV. I had also hung my old Maine license plate on the wall right in front of my desk to keep a bit of home in close proximity. It wasn’t exactly a Monet, but it did fill me with small bouts of happiness and encouragement from time to time.. That morning, sliding into my ass-numbing fold-out chair, I looked up at the plate and thought, “man, I hope this is all going to be worth it some day.” I might have cried a bit, since emotional instability had become a way of life, and then I booted up the computer and got after my daily cold calls.
Anthony, I’m sure, woke up differently that morning. For the first time in maybe three years, he was embarking on his first, full season of baseball again. It is what he loved to do and someone was about to pay him $1800 per month to do it. Again, not exactly the coveted draft contract he was stripped of, but still getting a paycheck for his passion in life nonetheless. Though I didn’t admit it to him then, I would gladly accept $1800 per month to shop for a living or work for a music record label, but a criminology degree from a reputable four-year institute will definitely not open those doors for you. A Bachelor’s degree for a cool one billion dollars gives a small sense security in life, but it definitely does not scream, “Okay, now go live the life you imagined!” I was proud of where I was in life and how hard I worked to get there, but there was still a sense of envy while I watched Anthony packing up his things for the game.
At around 2:30PM, I hopped in the shower to get ready for our trek to the field. I know they say to dress conservatively when you go to Mexico and to wear minimal jewelry, so I went ahead and dolled up like it was the Miss America Pageant. I hadn’t lived through a full season yet, but I had been to enough games to know that the ladies of Mexico pulled out all the stops. Sky-high heels, big hair, fake lashes, pink lips and quite honestly some of the nicest butts I’ve ever seen. So yeah, I kept it about as tame as a midnight drag show and we headed to the border for game one.
The trip was not exactly simple. Our house was about a thirty-five minute drive to the border and then we had to park in a lot adjacent to the Mexican entrance. We paid five bucks to leave our cars in a sand trap, locked them up, and headed on foot to the International Border. Generally at that time of day the sun was hotter than Satan’s lair so the half-mile walk into Mexico was sufficient enough to cause some pretty noticeable pit stains and swamp ass. My master plan of getting all done up was foiled before I even made it to the field. Once in Mexico we needed to hail a cab to take us to the field which was a couple of miles away. The trick was to find the cabs with their windows rolled up because that’s how you identified the class-acts with air conditioning. For the five minute drive I would sit with my arms up, hoping my pits would air out and I wouldn’t smell like a barbarian. Mission, generally, unaccomplished.
The field was packed the first day and finding a seat was tough. As the foreign white girl with a Spanish vocabulary consisting of “hola” and “gracias,” not many people were scooting over for me. I climbed into an orange fold-down seat some where behind the on-deck circle, and just waited for the game to start. They were going all out for this thing. They had a band of middle-schoolers that played songs for a good thirty minutes. I’m pretty sure one of the songs was “Set Fire to the Rain” by Adele. What??! I might have been the only soul in there humming along, but everyone was still pretty happy. Then they played the Mexican National Anthem and I thought for sure it was go time. But, no. They had the Federali come out onto the field – to execute or protect us – I couldn’t be sure. And then the mascot whizzed around the field in the back of a truck a few dozen times. The opening ceremony had to be an hour and a half long. I appreciate the effort, but with the back of my legs stuck to the plastic seats with sweat, maybe just some team announcements and free beer would have been cool.
That game was one of a gazillion that year. Don’t ask me who won or lost, or what Anthony’s stats were because all I remember was looking over my shoulder all night wondering if I was actually safe. When it finally ended my diabetic feet that I crammed into some stilettos were swollen and miserable. It was almost 11:00 at night and we really weren’t all that close to being back home. We hailed a cab – well really in Mexico they hail you – and got dropped off at the pedestrian immigration line. I took one look at that thing and almost burst into tears. Unbeknownst to us, Yuma is a massive agricultural hub. In fact, I bet you didn’t know it but, they produce over ninety percent of the nation’s lettuce supply and they’re actually called the “Winter Vegetable Capital.” Yeah. That’s where I lived. And that particular time of the year was harvest season, where all the workers took busses out into the fields and picked all the vegetables – a very popular job amongst Mexicans. As a result, they would all cross over the border late at night to be at work early enough to start harvesting. Great work ethic and dedication, but a very, very sad day for me an my diabetic feet. We stood in line for just over an hour and got through the border control interrogation: What was your business in Mexico? (baseball and supporting wifey). What team do you play for (the red team; we can’t pronounce algodoneros yet, Sir). What do they pay you? (sadly, probably more than you, but I bet your benefits are better). Have a nice night, gringos.
Sitting in the car and putting my feet up on the dash, I felt the blood rush out of my feet and legs. We made the late night drive back down Juan Sanchez Boulevard and worked up an appetite for some 1:00AM grub. Unfortunately, the only thing open at that time was Jack In the Box. Real delicious stuff if you like 24-hour old fries. But we ate up anyway because it was late, and it was American, and the FDA regulated what was going into the food there. At the very least, we could assume it wasn’t made of dog and that was good enough for me.
At home, I shuffled into the bathroom in a haze and brushed my teeth. I was so exhausted standing there I questioned if I had the onset of narcolepsy. It was just about 2:00AM by the time I fell into bed, and I remember thinking, “Holy shit – I have to be up for work in five hours and do this all over again tomorrow.” I wanted to cry. I even scrunched up my face like it was going to happen, but I passed out before any tears could ever come.