A Film by Joe Johnston
I return to the ballpark back home every Thanksgiving, well after the sharp pop of cracking bats has flown south with the Canada geese.
There's an unholy betrayal seeing brown oak leaves rotting along the backstop and atop the dirty infield,
the chalk stripes long since washed away.
Now the snow has come and the outfield grass has settled into a dull, brown dormancy.
It's even worse when the sun sets.
A baseball field is incorrect in the cold light of the winter moon, like a cemetery at night.
The shadows of the fences and the trees and the foul ball posts and scoreboards arch across the outfield grass and infield gravel
like knives of winter stabbing a sacrificial summertime hog.
Ghosts of activity and hot dogs and ice cream trucks drift in and out of the dark shadows.
We run home for Thanksgiving toward things that are familiar.
Streets we used to remember. Dinner tables we used to sit around.
We run home for feelings bright and sunny and fat and full of life.
We run home but home is never there like it used to be
and people aren't sitting in the right seats and somebody else is making the potatoes now
so we steal home.
We steal home in recipes and we steal home in friendships
and we steal home in fragments
and we try to rebuild it
and sometimes we come close
but it's never quite correct.
It's a different kind of home
rebuilt from the memories of easy summers
the memories of easy freedom.
We build a new home at Thanksgiving to protect us from the long, cold nights ahead.
Freelance writer and filmmaker Joseph Johnston made his first movie at the age of 11, an industrial espionage thriller that continues to play to excited crowds in his parent’s living room every Christmas. His work has appeared in Rawboned, GTK Creative Journal, Old Northwest Review, and the Linden Avenue Literary Journal and his movie Fragments was the inaugural winner of the Iron Horse Literary Review's Video Literature contest. You can keep up with him at http://www.joe-johnston.com.