Last October, I was living over a thousand miles away from my hometown of Kansas City, Kansas. I had been living in Palm Springs, California, for the past ten years. Of course, there were a lot of things I missed about Kansas: bar-b-cue, jazz clubs, season changes, and, of course, family. But one special event last year made me particularly homesick. My professional hometown baseball team, The Kansas City Royals, was playing in the World Series.
Though I have never been athletic myself, I enjoy watching sports. I love going to live games and feeling the energy of the crowd as they cheer on their favorite players. Though I hadn’t been to a game in years, I was still extremely proud of the Royals for their major field victories.
I also have to admit that I was extremely jealous. Every day, new post would appear on Facebook from my Kansas friends about the Royals’ activities. Every few days, I would receive emails with links to major articles that reported on the games. Every time I spoke on the phone to my brother, Tony, he would talk endlessly about the excitement that was buzzing around the city. My sweet cousin, Connie, sent me a t-shirt that showed the Royals in a victory pose when they won the pennant. I loved the t-shirt, the articles, and the resonant thrill in Tony’s voice. But I wanted to be there! I wanted to share in all of the activities, games, and trash talk that happens during Series games, but no one in California really seemed to care. I can’t blame them, though. It would have been very different if the Dodgers had made it to the Series. It’s amazing the amount of pride people can feel for a hometown team.
I was teaching most nights that the Series games took place in 2014. On every break, however, I would grab my phone and check scores and stats. When class resumed, I would exactly announce to my students, “The Royals are up by one point!” My pronouncement was usually meet with blank stares. “The World Series! My team is in the World Series,” I would inform them. “It’s so exciting!” Several students would smile and nod their heads. But after the second game, no one was showing any reaction at all. But I didn’t care. I still continued to enthusiastically support my team from a thousand miles away.
,,,.And then the Royals lost the Series. They lost the seventh game to the San Francisco Giants, 3-2…
…Life went on…
My circumstances began to change in the spring of 2015. With few alternatives, I moved back to Kansas City, Kansas, in August of that year. The baseball season was in “full swing.” (I hate clichés but thought this was a good metaphor for baseball!) The Royals were winning a majority of their games…Oh, my gosh, the Royals were in the playoffs against the Toronto BlueJays!
For the next two weeks, the air was crisp with excitement and blue t-shirts, hats, and jackets were everywhere. Bars and clubs were packed with people staring at large screen televisions, their eyes following every move, watching every play…And I was there! I was in Kansas! I was home!
And then, it happened! Friday, October 23, 2015, following an hour-long rain delay during the 8th inning, the Royals won the pennant, defeating the BlueJays and earning another trip to the World Series for the second year in a row…with home field advantage, I might add.
As I listened to game predictions and my friends’ plans for the first Series game this Tuesday, October 27, 2015, I can’t help but smile. This year has been full of second chances. I’m starting fresh, starting over again…I came back home after a long time away. It had been 25 years since I lived in Kansas. I have a second chance to renew old friendship, reconnect with family, plan new adventures, start new careers, and redefine my life. I have another chance now to seriously concentrate on my writing career. Who knows if I will succeed or not? But what does it matter? Second chances can be hard work and very scary, but it’s so much better than giving up.
The Royals did not give up on their “Road to Gold.” It’s very rare for a team to make it to the Series two seasons in a row. Who knows what’s going to happen? Who can truly predict if the Royals will defeat the Mets this year and by how many games and runs? Who cares actually? The Royals have a second chance for success. And it is scary and it is hard work and they may not succeed. But the effort is so much better than giving up…
…And I’m proud to share this amazing experience with my family and friends. I guess, even through all of my travels, I have always been a Kansas girl at heart…and I am so grateful for second chances!