It had now become a ritual that after every break-up he would go for a walk in search of a baseball diamond. If there were bleachers there, he would sit and wait for a pickup softball game to begin and he’d watch it to completion. There were seldom others spectating at these low-stakes games, and when there were, they were usually the significant others or family members of those who were on the field.
He would go there without a phone. He would go there without a pen and paper. He would go there without much of anything in his pockets, save for the palm-full of coins he would give to whichever man or woman was opening the door outside the 711 when he walked past after the game. A meager sum. He was privately saving face. While he was apparently terrible at making his former girlfriends happy, donating less than a dollar in change to a complete stranger was a way that he could guarantee momentary happiness to another.
He liked the solitude of the bleachers. He liked to be able to watch and not really ever be noticed. He wondered if this was why his relationships always failed. Being a spectator of how others interact, but not necessarily trying to learn from it or trying to let those lessons spill into his decisions. The teams he watched, as he knew from his days playing with the boys in his neighborhood, understood the importance of communication. That was how defense was successful. In a relationship, perhaps lack of communication was the way that one part of the team was successful. Keeping those uncommunicative walls up. That was apparently where he excelled.
He always had a response prepared in case anyone came up to him while he sat watching strangers play nine innings, though he had yet to answer anyone about why he was there. Nobody ever asked. If someone asked what team he was rooting for, he would say, “the team that’s up to bat.” That was what he would say, but that is not what he would mean, nor would it be meant to be witty. His answer would mean that he was not interested in who won and it would be delivered in an abrasive enough tone to indicate to the inquirer that he was not there to carry on small talk. He did not need to feel like he was supporting either side of the arbitrary conflict that was to be decided that evening. He didn’t want to get into the reason he liked to sit and watch these games after a break-up, but if he had to he supposed it had to do with tapping into memories of changing into his baseball uniform after school and getting dropped off at practice or a game and being young and untethered and oblivious to the inevitable cave of adulthood.