I made plans for this weekend. I bought tickets to the Twins and the Nationals on Saturday, three of them. One for me, one for my older brother, and one for my eldest niece (2 years and 8 months as of Monday). I flew out right after giving students their last exam, and--with essays to grade on my tray table--got quietly more and more excited about the prospect of baseball with my family.

This morning I went with said niece and my brother to the Air and Space Museum, enjoying my time as Uncle Silly Face (apparently my goatee has earned derision both in my classroom and in my family). We saw the LEM, the plane that broke the sound barrier, touched some moon rock and wen through Skylab three times (astronaut food--very exciting stuff to a two-year-old). Returning home I started to get supremely giddy, we would all get a nap, and then, we'd go to the ball game.

Sadly one of us needed a little more nap time than the others (hint: it wasn't one of the boys). So, slightly disappointed not to share the moment with the "big girl" of the house, my brother and I headed off for Nationals Park, shortly after first pitch. We were both a little quiet, and I was awkwardly aware that it had been 18 months since we last saw each other. Lots of fatherhood (including the birth of a second child) had occurred in the interval. Suddenly, Iwas not sure how to act around this grown man I knew as a boy.

The Brother in question is in the middle
My brother made me the man I am today. He came home from kindergarten with a piece of chalk and taught me to write my first words on a bit of plywood in our garage; ever since then, I've been fascinated with words and how to use them. He worked endlessly to be better in basketball and soccer and in doing so taught me to play hard, even if you don't have the talent to be the best; since then, I've always tried my hardest in sports and in life (despite having barely more strength than my aforementioned niece). He always seemed effervescently cool first in high school and then in college, but taught me that whatever that may look like it is nothing, nothing, compared to the happiness and elation that comes with falling in love first with your spouse/significant other and then with your children; now, I have found the same thing with my wife and look forward to having it with children (eventually).

So we were both a little bummed, not to have his daughter, my niece along with us. And though we agreed the crowded, bumpy, queasifying metro rails of Washington DC were not ideal for a toddler, we were still a little tired, and I was a little distant as we entered the park in the bottom of the fifth.

Two hot dogs, a couple sodas, a bag of peanuts, a dancing usher and one bizarre comment from drunken Nats fans nearby (apparently--in their minds--Kevin Correia is my friend, and his 6th inning strike reflects poorly on my worth as a human being) and we were back to what we always have been: brothers.

We laughingly imagined what outfielders were saying to each other (and pictured Jayson Werth having a John Popper tattoo, secretly wishing the post-game-Blues-Traveller concert would start already). We caught each other up on our favorite teams--distinguishing Eduardo Escobar from Pedro Florimon took a little work, as did mastering the Roger Bernadina shark chomp. He stood and cheered a slick double play in the eighth, while I politely nodded my approval. I anxiously chewed my fingernails as Perkins closed the game, and he had the decency not to jeer the action.

View from our seats (taken by a much better photographer than me)
The outcome of the game was really insignificant though. After 18 months we were together again and doing something we both loved. Watching a great game, laughing our butts off, and being brothers. There was sun in our faces, and there were hot dogs in our bellies. It would have been wonderful to share it all with a little one, but that time will come.

You don't need a plan to have a good time.

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