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Giving up on Plans, and the Red Sox

And now for the next in our commentary series…. Reporter Dan Rabb tells us how learning to embrace change meant giving up something valuable..

Moving from Boston to New York shouldn’t have felt like a big deal. It was an opportunity for my wife and I to advance our careers.  I was born and raised in Boston, but I had lots of friends in New York, and I was here all the time for work anyway. To be fair, New York has treated me well in the year since I made the move 300 miles south.

But more than I care to admit, I find myself thinking about what I sacrificed to come here. There’s this constant ache that I gave up something I may never be able to get back. Something precious.  Two things, actually:a pair of faded red plastic chairs. Seats 5 and 6 in Row NN, Section 95 in the right field grandstand at Fenway Park.

You’re not supposed to just give up your Red Sox season tickets. They’re sacred objects, handed down from generation to generation. And you can’t just buy them. Someone has to either die or do the unthinkable – give up their seats. I had to put my name on the wait-list when I was in middle school, and I got lucky – the Red Sox called when I was nearly 30, 15 years later.

Sox tickets aren’t cheap –  even mine, way out in right field,and angled so sharply towards center that you spent all game looking over your left shoulder.   I’ll spare myself the embarrassment of laying out the math here, but these tickets were not a responsible financial choice. Think two months rent on a manhattan apartment. Still, the thought of turning them down never crossed my mind.

Those two seats meant far more than just the pleasure of watching baseball and drinking beer at every home game  – although believe me, that was great. And it wasn’t just that the team’s fortunes take up a higher percentage of my emotional bandwidth than I care to admit.

When I got off that wait list five years ago, it was confirmation that I had built the life that I had imagined since childhood in Boston. I was living in a building I had pictured myself living in when I walked by the fountain in its courtyard on my way to school decades earlier.  I was hanging out with many of the same high school friends as when I put my name on the wait-list all those years ago. Maybe this sounds terrible to some – a stagnant existence. But there’s comfort in the illusion that things will never change… that life can turn out exactly the way you imagine.

The Red Sox were central to this illusion. How many things that you and your friends love at 13 do you still love at 33?  My season tickets felt like assurance that there are some things you can hold on to forever.

But when I met my wife, not a Boston native, all of a sudden, the visions I’d held on to since childhood had to be shared with her dreams and aspirations. And while it hurt, the decision to give up the tickets and move for her career was just as much of a no brainer as buying the seats in the first place.

My life in Boston was  comfortable and effortless, but leaving that cocoon of familiarity has given me perspective, and freedom. I’m about to finish a graduate degree,  and looking at jobs all over the world. The future seems wide open, and that’s a good thing – even if it feels like I’m losing a bit of myself in the process.

That said, I have a confession. Last month I called the Red Sox and put my name back on the wait list. I figure if it takes another 20 years, I’ll be 50 when I’m a season ticket holder again. And hopefully I’ll be able to walk to Fenway with my kids, the way I always hoped I would. Maybe I’ll even pass my seats along to them. But I’ll make sure they know that if they give them away, that’s ok too.  

Dan Rabb wants to clarify that his new embrace of change does not extend to supporting the Yankees. Ever.


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