I knew when I was 10 years old that I wanted to live in New York City. This was before the days of Disney-ificiation and Lion King musicals in Times Square. These were the days of sleaze, crime, dingy days of Ed Koch.
And I LOVED it. I knew somehow I’d be there someday.
I often say that when I was seven, two things occurred that really helped shape my personality as I got older. I discovered Duran Duran and new wave Brit pop. At the time, artists like Madonna and Michael Jackson were the popular go-to Top 40 artists of the time. I listened to them too, but I really loved DD. That same year, I caught myself watching some baseball games with my dad. He was a Mets fan. I declared myself as such too.
I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. The year I was 10, the Mets won the World Series.
That was also the first year I visited New York City for the first time. Not just going to Queens to see a baseball game, or driving through Brooklyn and Staten Island like we used would going to our Sunday games. But a real live Broadway show (Cats on a Wednesday afternoon with my mom and my aunt). My dad and mom also took me on a day trip to the South Street Seaport, an area I used to work close to as an adult, that has lost some of its lustre, but nevertheless still holds a special place in my heart.
When I was 10, I attended more Mets wins than I ever had. They won 108 games that year, it would be hard to see a loss. Then again, I attended about three Dwight Gooden starts in his rookie year, only to see him lose all three.
He lost nine games total that season.
It should be no surprise that in 1986, the Mets won the World Series, and I went to New York City for the first time that same year.
Both were gritty. Both were totally different from what I was used to.
I identify in my Jersey-ness. But ew York was where I belonged.
I didn’t know that though till the Mets were in the playoffs that year.
I grew up in a boring rural town, that was basically only car accessible. There was no walking to the corner store, or taking a walk through the neighborhood. Shit, I couldn’t even really ride a bike around…my parents feared I might get hit by a car careening down the street, not expecting a young child on a bike.
So I was relegated to basically our building, to my bike in the parking lot…I mostly read books, and kept journals. I also watched a LOT of baseball.
Then New York City got under my skin.
Never mind I had been to the city a few times for a show, some touristy stuff and even rode the subway. I had only seen that happen in movies and television.
It was during Game six of the 1986 NLCS against the Houston Astros that got me.
This has been a tough year for me, getting to games wise. I took a job that has me working many weekends. I could finagle a day off here or there, but the reality is, being retail driven, I can’t really miss Saturdays. The Mets didn’t consult with me, and there was only one flippin game this year that started at 7 pm on a Saturday.
To say I’ve missed many Saturdays this season is an understatement. But I did get to go to three games in a row this week, and four out of five games.
Not one to miss a chance to see another game, I went the next night too. I saw two wins. I saw a rain delay Tuesday night that was almost as long as the first part of the game. During the delay, I was able to charge my phone, watch Homer Bailey’s no-hitter in the Caesar’s Club, but reminisce about 1986, the last World Championship won by the Mets. It wasn’t because we simply had nothing better to do; the highlight reel of that season “1986: A Year to Remember” was played during the delay.
When highlights of the epic Game Six (the “first” one) came across, the video showed fans all over the naked city watching the game by any means possible. If that meant they had to brown bag beers outside of an already full bar, so be it. They watched (and did The Wave) outside of appliance stores that showed the game on the display TVs. Strangers were high-fiving strangers. Underage drinkers were toasting cops on the street.
I was watching the game from my living room in Freehold, New Jersey. I sat in front of that TV from the time I got home from school, to the very last bitter out. To the point where the broadcast switched right ALCS, where the Angels were playing the Red Sox.
On the evening news, they broadcasted from a street called “Houston” (pronounced “How-STUN”), where there are still several bars. Fans cheered so loudly, you could barely hear John Johnson report from the street. They showed the footage of fans outside of stores, bars, cop cars or wherever they hear or see the game.
I had been to the Big Apple a few times by that point. But as a 10 year old, I decided THAT was where I needed to be.
New York City gets under your skin. It did for me at least, and for the next 20-something years they closest I’d get to the city was going to Mets games. I lived literally across the river, so I figured I was a short ride away from the action. I worked here. Then I had a few things come to a head in 2008. That was when I decided it was now or never. I’ve lived here since.
They say you can only have one great love. I call bullshit. Sure, I have my husband, a man I probably would not have met had it not been for our mutual Mets fandom. The one constant I’ve had is the Mets. And the city.
I belong to all three.