Buried deep in the Pacific Northwest, under Superchunk albums and Dave Krieg jerseys, Ballerball was able to uncover a vast number of writings from Shawn Kemp’s old diary. These are his words.*
January 9th, 1996
I am in Chicago and the snow is thick and covering everything like a white blanket, knuckling up along the sides of the side streets the salt trucks won’t bother getting to. The flakes are blown sideways by the wind whipping in off Lake Michigan trying to rip through the scrapers downtown. The lights are twinkling still, though, and I sit high above the icy ground with a pen in hand and my moleskin open and I sing my song to you, Diary. I sing it softly, as I’d sing to my love in bed if someone was asleep in the next room. I sing it in your ear and you feel the words run through you. We play the Bulls tomorrow and I suppose this is where I should talk about Jordan but other things rattle away inside my mind, my thoughts battering rams.
She did look at me longer than an uninterested woman would, didn’t she? When I went downstairs to request a toothbrush it did seem, when she handed it back to me, that she held it there a bit longer than was necessary. Am I crazy? Am I only seeing what I want to see? Both our hands touched the brush for but four seconds but it seemed an eternity, Diary! What life she gave me when I stared into her eyes, green as our road uniforms.
I am hungry and was planning on taking a cab to Malnatti’s to eat alone and think about the game and life, but I wonder if she would be interested in going with me? Is she even able? Surely she works the night shift and is out of commission until morning. Company is good, though, no? It keeps us sharp. Company gives us stories and stories keep us alive. Alive to hear more. Alive to tell more.
She was just so lovely, Diary. And what kindness! Gary was making a racket down there — something about a Snickers ice cream bar — and she could not have possibly been more helpful. She spoke with her whole body. She listened and explained and moved with the conversation, reacting to everything I was saying, wrinkling the corners of her eyes at me every so often.
It’s strange, for this road trip I brought along with me Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises. In that somewhat well spun yarn Lady Brett Ashley is consistently described as having been wrinkling the corners of her eyes at various people, namely the protagonist and narrator of the story, Jake. I should think I would like to see her wrinkle the corners of those emeralds more this evening.
To be unnecessarily thorough, though, Diary, I will say I do not wish for my relationship with her to be as Jake and Brett’s was. That was a miserable way to live, that life Jake led. Loving her and looking after her only to have her decide you can’t be together. It’s pretty to think about, yes. But wouldn’t it be prettier to feel for your whole life? Prettier to live within! Life cannot be all bullfights and Bulls games and drinking on Paris patios at night while the lights twinkle in the Seine and the carriages go by. There must be a love there giving your love back to you tenfold. I shall not be a Robert Cohn. I shall go win my lady!
I shall go to her. I shall put on my best suit and I shall go to her and ask. I must ask. To not allow yourself an opportunity for joy is to torment and torture the soul. I wish no such thing for my soul. My soul was meant to fly and we shall both take flight to Malnatti’s.
*No, they’re not.