Many of my fondest memories were my the things own Father and I experienced.. He wasn't always a bad guy. In fact - 95% of the time he was the best guy. Unfortunately - and let this be a lesson to you - the 5% of the time you aren't a good person... is the part that can really hurt people.
When I was 10 the Baltimore Blast were a thing. I'm serious. They were a real thing. Indoor soccer was a thing. Indoor soccer in Baltimore was a big deal. The Civic Center, as it was once called, aka the arena downtown, was once filled to the brim every night to watch indoor soccer. It was 1988 or 1989 and Baltimore was still a very big soccer town. We had locals on the team from Highland town and Kenwood. We had internationals too. They played hard and they were fun to watch.
Since then a lot has changed. Football came back to Baltimore and our winters were filled more with football than indoor soccer but the Blast have still managed to stay in the city and win. As tonight - I think they play for a championship in a much smaller league... likely to a much smaller crowd.
Some 25 years ago my Dad picked me up from school. Which in and of itself was a very special thing back then. I didn't like taking the bus - I always lived further away from my school than most and it often took an hour to get home. He picked me up waving 2 tickets to the Championship game. We were playing the San Diego Shockers - our much hated rivals and their star player Hugo Perez.. We had Drago, Stankovic, Ronson, Timmy Whitman, and Ketih Van Eron. I still remember all the players' names.
I remember sitting in the upper rafters with my Dad, He bought me a big foam number 1 finger. He would hold me tight when something happened and explain how the players moved. He loved showing me things. And he was always allowing me to see and do new things. At least to me they seemed bigger than the entire world. Going to the Blast championship game seemed like the center of the world to me. It must be that there was no place on Earth anyone would rather be. He would buy me concessions with what little money he had. And the fondness with which I remember the smells and sounds of that night will never dim to me. We lost - but it didn't matter. For the night - my Dad and I were at the center of our little world and it was all so vibrant.
There are more exampled like this - but as I see today that the Blast are playing in the championship game and I think to myself - that one of the perks of my Dad not having a job was that he was able to pick me up from school and do things like this on a regular basis. I have to say - that aside from being a bit of a derelict and dead beat - he loved to spend time with me when the opportunity arose. And I think to myself that there is nothing I want more in this world than to do that with my children. Unfortunately you are a little young to go out until 11 at night - but hopefully I will remember that feeling I had as a child and I hope that I can give you the same feeling as well when you get a little. Get ready to miss a lot of school on whims.
I love you both -
The beauty of March 1st will never be lost on me. I remember holding you moments after you were born. It was just you and I in a little room for 20 minutes. I help you and you didn't cry. You just looked at me. You immediately became my favorite thing.
A year later - at our original house - we had all of our family and friends over to celebrate your first birthday. You had been your Mother and I's entire world for that first year. You were smart, obstinate, determined, and beautiful. You had remained my favorite thing.
Over the next 2 years you have become the daughter I had always dreamed of having. You're so smart I can't even understand it some days. You're kind when you are patient and you're loving when you stop and slow down. You have a warm desire to be a part of everyone's day. And you have a wonderful natural desire to explore and be interested in things. You compete. You try. You hustle. And you make me so very proud to be your Father. You are - and will always be my favorite thing. I couldn't imagine wishing a happy birthday to a more wonderful little girl. I love you so much.
Happy birthday Frank