Waking up sober is always — and I mean this sincerely — wonderful, but it’s a little extra gratifying on days when I reach over to the bedside table, swipe the DND lock off my phone and see a text from my dad.
I don’t even have to read it to know it’s good news.
He’s not much of a texter, but at some point in the 20 years since I left Chicago to pursue job opportunities in journalism, Dad started the tradition of firing off a “Cubbies woo!” after every Cubs victory. I remember getting those messages on my very first cell, the standard 5-pound Nokia brick that everyone had back in the early aughts.
Living out here in Pennsylvania (before that, Georgia), and seldom able to watch the game, those texts were a news report. They were also a lifeline. Reassurance that I was not alone, and someone out there was on my side, and we both had a good reason to feel joyful.
Of course, the man lying next to me in the bed for the past 13 years is a Cubs fan who also shares that joy. There’s just something about dads and daughters and baseball, though, right?
The other two Wielgus girls know what I’m talking about!
After a couple of years, I got so dependent on those texts for a shot of happiness that not getting them (meaning, we flew the ‘L’ that day) was a real downer. There was, admittedly, a period in my life when I let the exploits of my hometown team directly determine my mood.
The period lasted from about Spring 1978 until Winter 2018. 😂
Not that there’s an “off” button on sports fandom. I mean, I woke up this morning — actually, it was like 11:58 PM; you have to remember that I go to bed when it’s still light outside — and I immediately thought to look for a Dad text. My phone wasn’t in its usual spot on the bedside table.
While I had a sinking suspicion as to what I’d find when I located it, I went on the hunt anyway.
Sure enough, it is officially time to pack away the Cubs gear until 2021!
They left their bats packed when they showed up for the 2020 season.
My disappointment surrounding this early playoff exit is muted, when you compare it to all the other epic letdowns I’ve experienced as a lifelong Cubs fan — one of them, at the hands of this very same G.D. expansion team (*deep breath.*) And really, everything just feels different in 2020. So much has happened since our World Series climax four years ago. The fear I felt, standing in the upper deck of Progressive Field watching us try to blow Game 7, seems like kid stuff compared to my intense election trepidation. The stakes here seem so much higher than anything I’ve experienced in my 42 years wandering the Earth.
There are some disappointments you just don’t want to contemplate. 🤯
I might not take a drink over this shit, but it’s by far the biggest threat to my emotional sobriety in 15 months of pretty steady growth. And I worked part of that time at a marketing agency. 😜
Anyway…what I’d prefer to think about right now is my dad, and my family back in Chicago as a whole. Everyone is alive and well in a time of sickness and suffering, and I, with 454 days of sobriety, have not been this physically or mentally healthy since I packed up all my Cubs gear (which was like 90 percent of my wardrobe back then), threw the brand new Nokia in the console of the old Saturn, and drove south from Morton Grove, IL, to Macon, GA, to embark on “adulthood.”
Honestly, I think I’m better off at 42 than I’ve ever been.
Whatever is happening out there in the world now, and whatever will happen in November and beyond, I have every reason to feel joyful about today. I want to share that joy — and yeah, maybe a little obligatory bitching about the Cubs — with the people I love the most.
Too bad it’s currently 1AM Central time, and I’ll probably be headed back to bed when they’re waking up.
Was I just bragging about having my shit together? 🤔 You’d think I’d know by now, Cubs fans are never allowed to get comfortable, much less cocky.