A quick salutations, to the readers out there, my name is Jonathan and I am a huge NW area sports fan. Recently, I had the chance to catch some West Coast Baseball action up in Bellingham, and this week, I took a trip to Portland for more of America’s pastime. The Portland Pickles are a collegiate wood bat baseball team founded in 2015 and based in Portland, Oregon. Similar to the Bellingham Bells, the Pickles are a member of the WCL. And my story begins…
We huddled in the top far corner of the bleachers. It was the only place that had shade. Maybe six seats up there, shaded by a tree across the way. Shade, we needed, because it was blisteringly hot at Walker Stadium. The sun was relentless and us northwesterners aren’t used to 100 degree heat. So, me and my kid squeezed up in the bleachers with a few old people by a tree. The sun will move, I told her, but we’ll deal with that when the time comes.
In the meantime, we settled ourselves in for a Portland Pickles game. Me, and my teenage daughter. They were playing the Gresham Greywolves and it took all of $5 each to have some fun at the ballpark. She’s nearly 15 and having fun with her is proving more and more challenging. It’s not that we don’t like each other, it’s just that teenagers have about 1.3 million other people they’d rather have fun with than their dad. It’s put me, as the players take the field, in a pickle. What can I do but still try and be the best friend that she’s always been to me even if she’s pulling towards her own friends, her own life? “But, kiddo,” I say, excitedly, “the Pickles!”
At Walker Stadium they serve deep fried pickles. They serve pickle-flavored potato chips. They put pickles on their burgers and hot dogs. There is (yes, this Portland team is exceedingly Portland) pickle infused beer on tap. “I’ll try that!” I said to the beer slinger, my daughter behind me shaking her head in disgust. “It’s infused with pickles,” the beer slinger said as a warning. “It’ll taste like a nice light beer, but with pickles.” I get a pint and it’s actually not horrendous. I like it. My daughter snuck a sip on the way back to our seats. “Horrendous,” she said.
“Ooh, kiddo. It’s Dillon!” I point to the third base side. Dillon is a sentient pickle. Dillon is the Portland team’s mascot. It’s a pickle. I don’t know if there is a better mascot in the northwest. He’s got goofy eyes and, down there on the third base berm, he’s dancing around like a goof. “I’m going to get a selfie with it.” She shakes her head. “Horrendous,” she said.
It was different not that long ago; we used to do everything together; we’d go on hikes; go to movies; go to street fairs; visit cemeteries looking for the oldest graves,; dance; sing dumb songs; play Clue; eat cupcakes; go camping; and eat more cupcakes. There was not a free moment in which I was not near her, nor her near me, laughing at something together.
Time, though. Changes, though. She’s got friends of her own. She’s got ideas and thoughts and hopes and fears and passions and a compass of her own. She doesn’t need my direction. She doesn’t need me to tell her what life is about now that she’s truly living it. She doesn’t need my compass. She doesn’t need me to show her the world because she’s found a world of her own. It’s not my world. It’s hers and it’s big and beautiful and forever. It’s hers and however much I miss what we were together, I’m thrilled about what will come, and what will be of her.
What will be, sometimes, like a day in a blast furnace of a summer day, is us two at a ball game revelling with old people in a shady little spot behind home plate. Us, cheering when a home run is crushed out the park. Us, laughing at the dizzy kids between innings trying to win prizes. Us, amazed at how ridiculous a sentient pickle truly is.
I get my selfie. “You look like you were roommates in college,” she said. And it does look like we have a history – me and a pickle. We do have a story. Like this story, as short and flawed as it is, it’s a story worth being told. Like a father and a daughter sitting in scorched bleacher seats. LIke a memory. “Remember that game,” I’ll say. And me, and my daughter and, maybe, her kids, will be sitting on bleachers cheering on some team to create new remembrances. Some pickles are sweet.