Would it be okay if, in future letters, I just refer to you as Bret Saberhagen?
You may have noticed that I've decided to go with a shorter, more familiar title and not the full Former Major League Pitcher and Two-Time Cy Young Award Winner, Bret Saberhagen. I didn't get a response from you for the first letter, so I just decided to err on the side of less ink. You know, for the environment and all.
I'm not upset that you didn't write back. And this is for two reasons:
1.) I sent the first letter just two days ago.
2.) I didn't then, and do not now, know your address. I simply wrote Former Major League Pitcher And Two-Time Cy Young Award Winner, Bret Saberhagen, on an envelope (with ample postage, of course).
Bret Saberhagen, the reason I am writing is because you and I share a birthday (April 11th) and a sign (the ol' Aries ram). I read that on the back of a baseball card (a 1987 Topps card-the kind with that faux-wood border) and it's stuck with me ever since. It's meant something to me.
And, as we near our day, I thought maybe you might have some advice for a younger birthday fellow. I should be honest ahead of time and let you know that you're not really my favorite baseball player from the mid-80's to early 2000s. I was a Daryl Strawberry fan, Brett Saberhagen. I'll admit it. And I know he retired in 1999. But, after that, I think I followed Carlos Baerga. But, you're something more to me than a favorite childhood ballplayer. It's like we're brothers or cousins or twins (which would make us brothers) or something. Like April 11th Aries twins born in different years. Daryl Strawberry can't hold a candle to that.
Admittedly, beyond the shared sign and birthday, we don't have much in common, Bret Saberhagen. I was never really good at baseball. You would have struck me out, Bret Saberhagen. On my very first pitch of my very first practice, I was pegged pretty hard and sprained my hand and it never really got much better than that. So yeah, playing baseball's never really been my cup of tea.
I did have a mustache for a couple of days. It looked okay, but I wasn't ready for a full-time commitment like you were in your heyday and maybe you still are now. Do you still have your mustache? I hope so and I hope it's doing well, as I hope you are, too.
Well, when you get a chance, just drop me a line and let me know what it's like for someone of our ilk after the 29th year and what it's like after that.
P.S. No worries if you can't get back to me because you're too busy or my unaddressed envelopes never make it to you. I would understand in either case.
It's me again. Shane Portman. Please do not think I'm crazy. I have come to an understanding that these letters are just collecting at the bottom of a mailbox.
And I'm okay with that. In fact, please don't take this wrong way, Bret Saberhagen, but there's something in me that hopes that you don't get these letters. I like the idea of the letters getting bored (maybe over years and maybe by the end of the weekend) at the rusty bottom of the mailbox. Then, one day. they just open each other up and read themselves to each other. And they'd be the only ones to have read themselves. I like that idea, Bret Saberhagen.
I like the idea of inanimate objects having secret lives. Like tea cups dancing when we're not looking. I try to catch them in the act. And sometimes you almost do, Bret Saberhagen. Do you ever feel that? Like maybe you're two Cy Young Awards are playing badmitton behind your back?
I also like the idea that maybe, all around that mailbox, the world will change and grow old and evolve. And so would the mailbox. Maybe it would turn into a rock or something. And, someday, way way farther down the road (hundreds of thousands of years farther down the road), some archeologist would crack open the mailbox rock and find those letters and read all about our one-sided pen palship. Who knows, Bret Saberhagen? Stranger things have happened?
Here's what I really wanted to write you about, though. Today, I went to get my driver's license renewed and switched over from an Ohio license to a New York license because my Ohio one expires in two days on our birthday. But, guess what, I wasn't able to because I don't have my social security card. I lost that somewhere sometime ago and need to get a new one, I suppose. If you know how to get a new social security card, please let me know, Bret Saberhagen. No worries if you don't though. There are other ways of finding out that information beyond asking a former professional baseball player through the mail. And no worries about the license either. I have up to six months beyond the current expiration date to either get a social security card or go to Ohio and renew there where they don't necessarily need to see my social security card.
But, isn't it funny how much paperwork we need to have to prove who we are? I had my passport with me, my birth certificate, and my currently valid (for two more days) Ohio driver's license-which, bizarrely enough, has my social security number on it (some odd option that Ohio offered and I took, in a fit of complete disregard to identity theft issues). And that still wasn't enough!
Now, I do understand the individual needs of each and every piece of paper and/or plastic we have and each number we go by. I wonder how much brain space we use up, remembering all of our names and numbers. Do you wonder about that, Bret Saberhagen?
Get back to me when you can-if you can.
Dear Bret Saberhagen,
Happy birthday! It’s our day of birth, my friend whom I’ve never spoken to or seen beyond pictures on baseball cards.
When you reflect on your life, Bret Saberhagen, do you ever realize all the places you’ve been and get confused on where your home is? I know you’ve traveled much. Have you ever gone back to one of your older homes? Maybe in Kansas City? And you can feel the roots still dig in so deep. I think that’s because our homes are portable. It’s wherever we are. Wherever we feel safe. Wherever we need to be. And that can be an eternity or that can be a fleeting moment on a train, Bret Saberhagen.
Here’s a story I think you’ll appreciate, Bret Saberhagen. I was riding the train a few days ago. And the train is a funny place in the morning during the week. So many crabby people cramping into a small space to get to places a lot of them don’t want to be. Do you take public transportation, Bret Saberhagen? It’s hard not to laugh. So you just smile a bit. But, this one morning, the train cleared out so that it was only a quarter full. And this cute little blonde girl who had been sitting farther down from me moved next to me. My initial thought was that the older man who she had been sitting next to must have been crazy, maybe was gnawing on his hand or something. But, I looked and he was not gnawing on anything. He was sitting in full sanity. And this little blonde girl was not putting the moves on. You could feel that. Like one does. No, it wasn’t that. But, there was plenty of space on the train to sit completely alone and untouched by anyone and she chose to sit next to me. And suddenly this feeling rushed over me. This secure feeling. For whatever reason, she felt safe next to me and that made me feel safe next to her. We never said anything. And the only way I can describe it is that we must have been kindred souls, which sounds stupid, I know, Bret Saberhagen. But, you weren’t there. It wasn’t for you. It wasn’t for words. That moment was just for that moment and nothing else. All that needed to happen happened in that tiny burst of light during the changing dark of early morning.
Who could ask for anything more, Bret Saberhagen? And I tend to smile because of it. I tend to smile even when I pass people on soapboxes preaching the end of the world like it’s inevitable. And I smile, Bret Saberhagen because I’m holding out for something better.
Well, I should go, I suppose. I’ve got a birthday to celebrate and you do, too. It’s funny. I was writing to you under the assumption that I wanted advice on how to live a full life in an April 11th, Aries kind of way. But, I think what I really needed was just to tell someone that I’m still searching, Bret Saberhagen. And I’m okay with that. I’m actually excited about that.
Happy trails and happy birthday, my friend.
P.S. I’ve enclosed a little present-all my baseball cards of you (except the 1987 Topps card. The faux-wood border gives me an at-home kinda feel, but if you truly need it, let me know and I’ll send that, as well.). I didn’t know if you had them or not and figured that they’re rightfully yours, in a way. I apologize for the bent corners and creases. I was never very good at keeping things in mint condition and sealed away.