Sitting on the crowded train, packed with what seems like long lost family members all decked out in red, white, and blue the excitement builds each time the train stops, opens its little doors and more and more people cram into the what seems like a little sardines box. I make sure I sit next to the window that I can see her when she comes into sight. Patiently, quietly, I sit knowing that within a few minutes, my long lost heaven will be found again. My sadness will disappear. My life for the next seven months will change.
We round the curve, slowly, as I look down and try to catch glimpses of the streets between the tall buildings that block much of the scenery. Many balconies of the apartments we pass already have the flags and signs out and ready to welcome the change with open arms. Then, after one last stop, we start to crawl into our destination and there she is. The lights. I can see the lights. My stomach gets butterflies as I reach for my stuff. Purse? Check. Camera? Check. Wallet? Check. Tickets? Check. I have everything I need.
"Next stop. Addison. Doors open on the left at Addison"...the recorded voice comes over the barely audible speakers on the train. Many on the train already know and have piled in front of the doors trying to exit the train as fast as they can. Not because they are fearful they won't make it off, but because on the other side of those doors is the happiest place on earth. Everyone on the train has been waiting for six long, cold, painful months to get a piece of it.
The doors open and as I step out onto the platform, I can't help but just get stopped in my tracks. How I want so badly right at that moment to capture everything so sensual into a bottle. The smells.... it's early morning, yet still the sweet smell of grilled onions and meat grilling on the patios and decks of surrounding apaprtments fill my nose in the crisp early April air. The sounds... "Peanuts...get your peanuts"... "Tickets? Get your tickets".... and just the hustle and bustle of the crowd below us as well as the cars honking their horns trying to make it through the thousands of people beginning to flood the sidewalks and streets that circle her. And the sea of red, white a blue as they make their way toward her. The cold April Chicago wind slaps against my face, but I hardly notice that because the warm feeling all over because of the pent up excitement takes over.
I impatiently try to go with the crowd and make my way to the streets below. It's organized chaos. Everyone has the same butterflies and excitement that has overcome me. Many already cheering "Let's Go Cubbies"... as we make our way down the stairwell to the gates of heaven! We push past the security guards. We brush past the peanut vendors. We made out onto Addison! The guy at the bar right next to the el station stands in his spot that I see him every game I'm at with a bundle of tickets wrapped tightly in his hands... "Tickets? Get your tickets"....the thought always crosses my mind to see what he has to offer.... does he have better seats? Will he swap up? No, I have my tickets. I just want to be there, doesn't matter where I sit! I wait at the corner for the "walk" sign to flash at me. As the sign changes, the crossing guard steps in front of cars and busses try to muddle through the mobs of people filling the streets and sidewalks that encircle her. I look to my left. There's the scoreboard, and that's when I KNOW I'm home. The wind is blowing in. Could be a low scoring game. Will be cold. Will the wind shift? All thoughts that cross my mind in that split second that I see it towering over my heaven.
I stop for my yearly snapshot of Harry. I have dozens of these, and he hasn't aged a bit after all of these years! But it's my tradition.
It's time for my lap around Wrigley. The gates haven't opened yet, plenty of time to take it all in. You can hear the music blaring from inside the field where the players are taking batting practice. As you walk along the outfield walls, people are standing in the street with their Cubs stocking caps on their heads and their old tattered ball gloves on their hands in hopes of shagging a batting practice home run! "Crack...." Oh, such a sweet sound... the crack of the bat. It gives me goosebumples!