The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

Albert Camus once said:

Toss. Smack. Toss. Smack. Toss. Smack.

The steady rhythm of a game of catch between my friends and I rings in my ears as the first nice day of the year arrives.

The sun, if not quite beating down on us, is definitely shining, and I have ventured outside in just a t-shirt and a denim jacket.

The ground is soft and muddy, and though it’s not the best conditions to have a catch, at least everything is no longer frozen.

The grass is slowly peaking through the solid brown mass of the Great Lawn, and the dark green daffodil stems are starting to surface by the University Center. Life is coming back to the campus, and we want to be the first to witness it.

Our conversation floats between us like the ball – light and airy – and nothing weighs heavily on our minds. The war, Bush’s ultimatium, and Saddam’s refusal to meet it are not mentioned.

We don’t talk about anything serious; we don’t try and act cool.

The arrival, or even the promise, of spring has made us forget about our work and our worries and there is only the simple throw-and-catch tempo to think about.

As the ball sails past my head, I dive for it and miss, and I am suddenly jolted back to my yard in fifth grade.

My dad and I used to have a catch in my yard every single spring, lugging around a huge bag full of balls, bats, batting gloves and mitts that he still had from when he was younger – back in the days before children and work and responsibility. Though he didn’t play in college or even high school, he has always loved the game.

The gigantic bag would stay in our garage all winter getting dusty, and the first day we brought it out again was the true mark of a new season.

My dad usually just wanted to toss the ball around a bit, but we would always end up with him gently pitching the ball to me and me hitting it into the neighbor’s yard, where the kids next door would catch it and throw it back.

The game would slowly fall into a similar rhythm.

Pitch. Crack. Catch. Throw. Pitch. Crack. Catch. Throw. We would stay out there, just my dad and I and the kids next door until the sun went down and we couldn’t even see the ball anymore.

The grass always smelled freshly cut and the birds were trying out their songs again. It was a simple, elegant haven that I always wished would never end.

So I begged for just one more pitch, one more catch. I would make us stay out there in my backyard until my dad’s arms could barely even move anymore. Sometimes even past that.

Toss. Smack. Toss. Smack. Toss. Smack. I grab the lost ball behind me, wading through the mud by the Vincentian Cross, and throw it back to my friends.

It’s almost comical how badly we want spring to arrive. We are willing to slide around in the mud, get our hands, feet and clothes covered in dirt, all to play a game of catch. But it represents more then that. Spring. Freedom.

When the ball sails past me again I go back a little less this time, to the endless spring and summers spent with my dad at the ballpark – whether it was at Yankee Stadium or the local town park.

We go just about every year to at least one game, if not more. It’s a trek for us, driving two hours all the way from Connecticut to New York just for the day, but it is always worth it.

We talk about life and work and eat pretzels and hot dogs; my dad fills out the batting lineup and keeps track of the runs and the errors.

This past summer we had the worst seats in the worst section of the stadium, and I remember almost nothing about who scored and even who won. But I remember being there, with my dad, with not a care in the world.

Again, there was a slow, steady rhythm to the day; the crowd cheering, the organ playing and the announcer talking. Everything was laid back and easy; perfect.

Laid back. Easy. Exactly what this game of catch was on the Great Lawn.

Toss. Smack. Toss. Smack. Toss. Smack.

No one tried to do anything fancy, we weren’t out there to compete. It was just a simple game of catch that put everything into perspective and made life seem lighter, easier.

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