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I can never go home again: Baseball, denial, and moving on

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My life is like the song "The Way We Were", only with 100% more baseball.

Mitchell Leff

Yesterday morning, I was tweeting with our own John Stolnis and the amazing and talented Corinne (Crashburn Alley writer, @Ut26 on twitter, follow her please) about some of Scott Franzke's great calls. John named Franzke's call of Jimmy Rollins' walk-off in the 2009 NLCS as the greatest call of any kind. So, naturally, I looked it up.

I got halfway through the video and started tearing up, so I stopped it. It's weirdly tough to watch those clips sometimes, clips of the 2008-2011 Phillies, postseason or otherwise. There's an energy in the players that's not there anymore. Not to mention the energy of the crowd, which gets my heart beating almost five years later. It's hard to watch those clips because it's gone -- that era in Philadelphia is over, that team is gone. And it ended quickly, with the team turning in an 81-81 season the year after they went 102-60.

I watch those clips and my heart hurts a little, because as great as those memories are, there is no way to get them back. And looking at where the franchise is right now, all I want is to get those moments back, to relive them over and over and pretend that the Phillies are just as they were. Even though we've been living in a post-2011 world for 2+ years now, I don't want to look back because it casts into sharp relief just how shitty the Phillies are now.

I'm not someone who typically avoids emotions and feelings, big or small, sports-related or personal. I'm a passionate person who feels very deeply, so I don't usually have a choice but to feel and experience whatever emotions come up in my life.

Lately, that hasn't been the case -- the clip incident from yesterday is a microcosm of what's been going on with me recently. My parents are selling my childhood home in Maine, and I'm visiting this weekend for the very last time. This isn't a surprise -- this has been planned for over a month, and I've known my parents wanted to move back to Pennsylvania since, well, since we moved to Maine in 1990. For them, this is the end of a journey that started 24 years ago. For me, a 30-year old woman, it's the start of a different journey, one where I now have to redefine what "home" means to me. But my default emotion for the last month has been denial. I've avoided thinking about any of this, putting away my photo albums and moving all my Maine-era photos into a separate, well-hidden folder on my computer. I haven't contacted any of my friends from high school to let them know I'll be in town. I haven't looked at Facebook in ages. I even "forgot" to request the time off at work. I just didn't want to recognize that any of it was happening.

Saying goodbye is hard, and I'm really bad at it. I'm mourning not just the loss of the amazing house I grew up in, the backdrop for thousands of precious, meaningful memories, but my childhood as well. I'll be 31 next week, and I own a house, a car, a 401K, and a ton of debt. I'm an adult, but my childhood is still so accessible to me. And soon it won't be.

Denial seems easy, but it's actually very hard. Every time I start to feel something I have to slap it down and pretend it doesn't exist. That takes a lot of energy. And I didn't realize how tired I was until yesterday. As I stared at the video, paused on a frame of Carlos Ruiz gleefully sliding into home plate, I realized how stupid it was to not watch it. So I started the video from the beginning. And as Scott Franzke's voice reached that glorious, excited crescendo, I teared up again. This time, I didn't press the pause button. I let myself feel everything. There was glee and laughter and smiling, and wistfulness and sadness, and then a little anger at the end. But I lived through it. I didn't implode leaving a pile of ash and a wisp of smoke.

Everything in the present is informed by the past, and our opinions of the past are constantly changing and evolving. Ignoring (or being afraid of) memories doesn't make the present any easier to deal with. I feel so strongly because the memories are good -- that's why there's heartbreak.

A very small part of me will always long for what was, whether it's the 2011 Phillies, or that time in high school when me and my boyfriend spent the entire day alone at the house when my family was away on vacation. But it's time for me to make peace with my past, to feel it all and start to move on. In a few years, this pain will seem like a distant memory. Me and my family will be making new memories in a new place, watching JP Crawford and a whole new crop of players blaze their own trail through Phillies history.