Chekhov, Blazers, People

Just got back from the Blazers game. Went at the last minute, thanks to Becca. Parked at Lloyd Center, hopped the Max to the Rose Garden. Missed the first quarter.

Got Blazer tickets for Christmas a while back. Thirteen-ish. February matchup with Dallas. My experience with professional basketball was mostly radio legend Bill Schonely calling games on KTIL 104.1. Going to an actual game was a big deal. Difficult to emphasize the sense of importance I felt my physical presence would be to the team. Me, Josh, and Chief. Won by 30 or so. Clyde the Glide Drexler made a lotta buckets. They were all amazing, and I knew them all, and their heights and favourite music...

Anton Chekhov wrote a short story. The Bet. A young lawyer and rich banker make a bet over what is a worse form of punishment: capital punishment or life imprisonment. Deal is that if the lawyer lasts fifteen years in solitary confinement, he will get two million dollars. Can have all the books, music, wine, and pleasures he desires. But no human contact.

Read the story. It's a good one. Won't give away the ending. But it's a marvelous piece, for both personal reflection and conversational entertainment. I love books, film, music, learning, art...used to think I'd be fine in a little snowlocked cabin with a bottomless generator, grizzly skin rug, and library of reading material. Surround myself with stuff that brings me pleasure.

So the game tonight was fun, and being in an arena with billions of screaming fans does make you feel part of something bigger than yourself, though I can't shake the nagging feeling that the fates of my professional sports teams are not quite as big a deal as they were a few decades ago. There is certainly something liberating about screaming at sweating gladiators, with bouncing balls and angry countenances, and feeling good about doing it as a community. Nothing quite bonds people like a common target for vitriol. Which is a little sad, looking at the hairless faces of those boy-warriors. Then, I look at their tattoos (Seriously Mom, each of these means something super important to me, and it's really important that they be in Chinese or Sanskrit...). And then I remember that they make a lot of money to play a game. Which is cool. Just not quite as important to me these days to define my identity by the fortunes of my team.

So the Max ride. Nine minutes, each way. Crammed in, jammed up, sweat and smell and perfume. And noise. Jostling and snippets of conversation, and banging elbows, and Becca holding my hand. And I'm smiling. Because I like being around people. And I couldn't give that up.

Spent the day with Magdelana. In all of her inimitable and mischievous glory. Read stacks of books. Completed multiple art projects. Did some spying. Loads of laundry and dishes. Danced to Benny Goodman and The Rapture. Glorious and exhausting. Didn't necessarily feel like heading into Portland at the end of the day for a raucous feast of sweaty men throwing balls around (yes, driving that into the ground).

Can be isolating, and draining up on the mountain sometimes. Dad: long days. Work: late nights. I love my time with Magdelana. But tired though I was, it was invigorating to get out and be part of people en masse, to soak up the personalities and clashings of a crowd. Some people lose energy from being around people, others gain it. I'm not in the middle: I just erratically bounce back and forth between two extremes.

I like people.

Oh, they won. Now my week's not ruined.


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