October of 2014 was 1) my birth month, 2) a busy conference month for my job, and 3) the month my wife and I closed on our first home. Huge, right? So much mental energy goes into that kind of a month. Unfortunately, some of that energy powered instances of second-guessing, self-doubt, and overall anxiety. All of these things crept through the foliage of my mind to make Big Foot-like appearances in my psyche. Thankfully, these emotions are easier to capture and restrain (maybe I should charge individuals for viewing?) when you have a wonderful life partner. Do you know what else life partners are good for? Scoring Bulls tickets.
The company I work for was exhibiting at a conference in the burbs. As the final hours of the day limped along, my wife sent me a text about a chance for us to see the Bulls vs. Hawks preseason game. For free. As in, zero bank notes. I almost said no. Driving into Chicago is a bear at rush hour, and if we didn’t make it in time, we’d lose the tickets. My wife offered to meet me at the stadium to save time, and my immediate thought was of her on public transportation at night. Then it occurred to me: I had fluttered into the old habit of being stupid. There was no legitimate reason to turn down this opportunity. Traffic is a lame excuse for everything. Especially this. Public transportation is not the devil, nor is the night. My apprehension was completely unfounded. Because the Bulls game wasn’t part of my plan for that day, it felt like an indulgence. Something that I didn’t deserve. But why?
Perhaps it’s a middle class mindset, but why would I rather deprive myself of a good time after having worked a full day; because it wasn’t a Friday? The conference ended at 5pm and the game started at 7pm, but there were 10 or 15 minutes of wavering between whether I deserved to go enjoy myself. In fact, on a separate occasion, one of my friends told me–over a plate of tater tots and chicken wings at a sports bar–he almost didn’t come hang out because of a similar tendency to self-neglect. We both felt like we should be doing work instead. Work ain’t never going nowhere. Sanity, however, is fleeting. Hanging with friends or catching a game is not wasting valuable time; it’s experiencing valuable life. Recharging after a challenging month of moving and traveling and working is absolutely necessary. What good would I be to anyone if I only ground myself down to a series of dull choices only to merely exist? I love telling stories, but if I didn’t go to that game, I wouldn’t be able to share that it was my first time seeing the Jordan statue or that the last time I went to a Bulls game, Tyson Chandler was on our team. The time before that, Jordan. There was no before that.
So I said yes. I packed up my booth to await my return bright and early the next morning and I headed out. And guess what; I had more trouble with the GPS on my phone helping me find parking near the stadium than I did with traffic. I met my wife at the Jordan statue (she cabbed it), took a quick pic, then headed inside. The game was just what I needed. Expensive hot dogs, expensive bottled water, and free seats. We were close, too. Close enough to read jersey names, like Rose. Admittedly, there was a point when I thought the Bulls were gonna let it slip away, but then Jimmy Buckets ordered a 20-piece–fried hard–and ended the game with a three-point dagger at the buzzer to win the game by a single point. The crowd erupted at the point when the net clapped in on itself. Another ‘W’ in the column. The Bulls send a message to other teams in the East.
And to think; I almost said no.