Monday, November 23, 2009

Life at 41 (or Where Am I Now?)

(written on Sunday, while on the bus coming home from Boston)

I wasn’t going to write about my birthday. Honest. Yes, it was today, and it really wasn’t that great to not have Sean with me, but to be honest, spending my birthday weekend in Boston wasn’t that bad. It was otherwise just…another…day.

It was the phone calls that I didn’t receive that bothered me.

I heard from everybody else – Mom, Doug, Laura, Chris Erway, Nick Angotto, Nick Fox, friends old and new and many others via text, phone, and Facebook, and I gather there are more waiting for me when I get home. I haven’t had wireless access since roughly 11:00 this morning.

It touched me to hear from each one.

Of course, I can't ever be far from Greenwich and WGCH. While in my hotel room, Sean Kilkelly called to ask if I could help with the setup for the GYFL broadcast. I hope it's clear that, even when I'm taken away from Greenwich (which is rare), I'm always on call. I'm the Sports Director, even if that is in title only.

I care, just as I have for a decade. That’s what I do, and will do for as long I’m the sports voice of WGCH.

Christine Baker and I met just after 11:00 and decided to go the Jean Yawkey Center to set up for our broadcast. We then walked up Brookline Ave. and had lunch at Boston Beer Works – right across from, you guessed it, Fenway Park. Nobody knew that, underneath my Mount Saint Mary sweatshirt sat a New York Yankees WORLD CHAMPIONS T-shirt!

Sadly, the Knights lost to Emmanuel, 59-53, but our broadcast was pretty good, and we are getting better all the time.

Following the game, I sipped on a cup of coffee and called Sean (the first time I had spoken to him all weekend), and returned Laura’s call. That’s when a few of the girls heard that, yes indeed, this strange guy who had been on this trip with them was having a birthday.

It started with two of the tri-captains (Catie Biordi and Chrissy Zrowka), along with assistant coach Vanessa Lawson. Then tri-captain Shannon Sangster, who I interviewed for the pregame show, caught on and wished me well.

As we climbed on the bus, one of them mentioned that this must have been a rough way to spend my birthday weekend. Yet, let’s think about this. Where else would I rather be? I was in Boston with a nice group of basketball players, I had dinner with an old friend, my broadcast partner and I grabbed a good lunch, and I got to call two basketball games. Sure I missed Sean, but I’ll see him tomorrow. I’m utterly and totally confused about my relationship status so, again, where the bleep else would I rather be?

And that’s when I received the nicest, coolest birthday present.

The team did their count off (I was deemed number 20 by Catie and Coach Ognibene in passing), and I did my part, which elicited some laughs. Suddenly Shannon said “Happy birthday” again and soon, the whole team repeated it. Lastly, somebody said “shouldn’t we sing?” and at that moment, all 17 of them sang to me in unison.

The funny part was when they hit the “happy birthday dear…” part because nobody knew my name. To hear me say my name and them repeat it and resume singing was classic.

You can’t imagine how much it meant to me, and I think it showed in the smile (and my likely very red face). For these girls have not the slightest idea about me. Who the heck am I? A 41 year-old single dad trying to make ends meet doing what I love and hoping to keep my head above water. The last year has been one of promise and survival – hurt and elation. Am I better than I was when I turned 40? I think so, if only slightly. Financially? No. I’m worse. Emotionally? For the most part, I think I’m a lot better – though I think I need to leave that up to those of you who know me.

So this gift of song was as much about acceptance, and that made it special.

We’re on the bus now, and we’ll be home soon. And the season continues.

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