"This supposed to be ya'll year/we ain't get the memo."
This Nicki/Drake collaboration couldn't be more applicable to how and what I feel when I reflect on the happenings of any past year. As I try to avoid sounding like the world's biggest pessimist, I am certain that no one in this world feels like his or her expectations are always met. Things that are meant to happen, that almost feel like they should happen serendipitously, often don't come through. Things fall through the cracks, people (myself included) fail, and events often don't occur in the fashion that any of us hoped for with the outcome that was originally anticipated. The grass is always greener on the other side and "next year" always carries promise to (hopefully) leave behind the trials, tribulations, and shortcomings of the past year, in an attempt to move forward.
Since it's nowhere close to the New Year, you're probably wondering why this rant now. Well, I'm a die-hard sports fan, and it goes beyond the sport itself.
I was crowned -- or cursed, depending how you look at it -- as a Cubs fan before I left the womb. I can't remember my first game or experience at Wrigley Field, but there is plenty that I can recall.
Baseball was always on in my house growing up. Some of the first memories I can recall are watching baseball with my dad in our den on our 1980s-style L-couch. As the firstborn of a dedicated sports fan, I think it was also decided that I had to like sports, and luckily for him, it was love at first pitch.
As a Cubs fan, it is clear that I understand disappointment. I understand the feeling of year after year expecting for it to be our year and suddenly it's halfway through the summer (if we're lucky) once we are mathematically out of it and we're already on to thinking about how the next year will be ours.
To be perfectly honest, sometimes I think my life mirrors the Cubs. I joke far too often about being cursed, about setbacks and frustrations, but trek on to the next step and opportunity. As far as people with bad luck go, I hope I fall into the category of being a lovable loser like my all-time favorite team.
With that being said, year after year as baseball season -- the best time of the year, by the way -- rolls around, I hope for the best and expect the worst. Year after year, we experience the high highs and the low lows. From watching the Bartman game in that same den where I watched my first baseball game and feeling the pain in my chest as we realized everything was unraveling, to the time I cried at a fraternity house when the Cubs lost their last postseason game in 2008 (mind you, I think this may have been one of maybe three times I have cried in public about anything besides death).
I've gone through the rocky emotional roller coaster that is being a Cubs fan alongside the best of them. I remember sitting in my apartment senior year watching the MLB '12 commercial, one that fantasized a Cubs World Series win, with tears streaming down my face thinking that it was too good to ever be true. (Disclaimer: I just teared up watching it again, which is mildly embarrassing, but I'm going with it).
Fast forward to now. This year has been different for the Chicago Cubs. For a year that has personally been filled with more downs than ups, it's been a relief that baseball has been a source of positive energy and hope, more so than I can ever remember. This season has been incredible. There has rarely, in my lifetime, been this many plays I have re-watched for positive reasons. I can't remember the last time the team as whole had this much energy, spirit, connection, and drive; I can't remember the last time Wrigley wasn't overflowing with anxiety. Although losing these first two games to New York has my nerves speaking a bit of a different language, it still holds true how special this team is.
Coming off of flying to Pittsburgh for the Wild Card game and attending Game 3 and 4 of the NLDS (side note: witnessing the Cubs clinch at Wrigley was one of the top five things I think I have ever experienced), I am hopeful. Although it's been a hard series thus far, I am confident that the next few games will be different at home. I'm not saying this is the year or that this isn't the year (mostly because I am superstitious and also, not a psychic), but what I am saying is that the Cubs are on their way.
Being a Cubs fan is about hope. It's about tradition. It's about loyalty. It's about dedication. It's about trust. It's about family. It's about a connection to a team that goes far beyond what happens on the field.