Friday, April 27, 2007

I Have Seen Heaven

Did you know that there is a wonderful, happy, magical city? Did you know that it's right here in the U.S. of A.? Did you know that you can go there if you want to? You didn't? Well let me tell you about it:

Last weekend Laura and I rented a car and drove up to Cooperstown to visit my good friend Kajsa. We let Stephanie tag along, since she knew Kajsa in high school too, and if we hadn't we'd probably have to hear about it for ages. Actually, she pretty much invited herself along, though it was nice to have someone pitch in for gas. Of course, she pretty much whined the entire time, I'd say at least a tank and a half's worth, and since that's about how much gas she paid for, I'll call it a wash.

We didn't actually get to Cooperstown until about 2:00 a.m. Friday night. The drive was long and perilous (deer), it was dark, we were tired, and when we arrived we went straight to bed. As we slept that night we were completely unaware that somewhere along our drive the highway had ceased to be simply a road, and instead became a metaphysical conduit out of time and space, transporting us from our hum-drum lives to a world of pure bliss, where only perfection was a possibility.

As the brilliant sun rose the next morning, I too awoke, stepped out of the bedroom where I was staying, and looked out the window, across centerfield of Doubleday Field, the green grass shining with majesty, the bleachers eagerly anticipating the lines of fans who would fill their perfect butt-holding capacity, the cleanly raked dirt, the vivid white lines of fresh chalk, the smell wafting up to my nose. It was immediately obvious that we had stepped out of the mundane, and into the, well, the dane?

After we took our turns in the shower, we set out on foot for the main street in Cooperstown, just a stone's throw - or a baseball's throw (non Vladimir Guerrero division) - from Kajsa's house. We grabbed breakfast at a small little diner, and then headed through the town to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

The city itself was ideal. Every other shop was filled to the brim with baseball memorabilia and collectibles. The others were restaurants, all offering brats and beer, with a side of peanuts and crackerjacks. Pennants hung from the light poles. Vendors walked the sidewalk calling loudly that they were offering cotton candy or ice cold beer. The streets were paved with T206 Honus Wagner cards. The stoplight had a third-base coach alternatively waving his arm in a large circle (go), holding his hands flat out forward (stop), or blowing the call and getting the runner thrown out at the plate (yellow). There was no crime, no poverty, no hunger, no war, no disease. There was a plethora of good deeds, riches, the finest foods, peace and understanding, and everyone lives exactly as long as they desire.

As if that wasn't enough to cement Cooperstown as heaven-on-Earth, there was a certain magical feel to the city. Let's see, how can I say this without overstating it? It was as if every worry or care you have ever had was immediately lifted from you, and replaced by everything good in the world, multiplied by a factor of 10.

And that was before I got to the Hall of Fame and Museum. Walking through the museum was amazing, looking at all the history of the greatest game on Earth, reading about players from the early days to the current season, looking at treasures from the entire baseball world. Truly a wonderful experience. But the Museum didn't even compare to the Hall of Fame. It was an almost religious experience; I was a pilgrim at this baseball mecca, surrounded by other pilgrims, all of us dressed in the robes of our various orders (an especially appropriate analogy for the Padres fans there). I got chills when I walked in. I got tears looking at the plaques of my heroes. The only time I've ever come closer to communing with the Divine is when I'm actually praying or otherwise communing with the Divine.

Cooperstown was the most wonderful place, a heaven, outside the laws of time or space, perfection, locked in eternity. As one would expect with the eternal, the day in Cooperstown passed much too quickly. Soon it was Sunday and we had to head home.

On the drive back we went through Scranton, Pennsylvania. Did you know that the sign that says "Welcome to Scranton" at the start of The Office has been replaced? Apparently the city recently decided to change that sign seasonally, and so instead of the old wood sign that's displayed at the beginning of the funniest show on television, they've now got some fancy metal thing that they can swap out whenever they find it appropriate. We were sad. But we did stop and get lunch in Scranton, though we couldn't find a Chilli's, Hooters', or Benihana's (Asian Hooters).

All in all, it was a wonderful weekend. I can't wait to go back.

As I walk, let me walk close to Thee


Matthew K. Tabor said...


As a resident of Cooperstown, it is with pride that I read your post. I am pleased that you enjoyed your visit as much as you did. I feel quite lucky to have grown up in and returned to this area - I am sure you understand why. Hopefully you'll be back sooner rather than later.


Matthew K. Tabor

Kajsa said...

I was hoping to come up with a snappy comment, but I got nothin'. Exhibit labels are sucking up too much of my brain power. Glad you could visit and that you had such a good time. We could use a third base coach at the stoplight - pedestrians too often ignore it. As glad as I am to be finishing in a few weeks, I will miss it here!