January 2016: Ivy Hall Review Features Lauren Small

Although Lauren’s heart resides in Tennessee, she has a love affair with Atlanta, Georgia. Falling in love with the creative culture of the city she is now earning her MFA in Writing. Lauren finds inspiration in creative non-fiction and cliché dating guides. 

How to Become a Baseball Fanatic

Learn the game. To love any sport is to know it. You have to know the ins and outs of the game: boundaries, rules, score keeping. When you’re in the sixth grade you won’t understand how serious the game can be. The only thing you’ll know is you love it. In the sixth grade, you’ll begin doodling your name and little hearts all over your wide-ruled notebook with the colorful gel pens you will beg your mom to buy for a class project.  Your mom will see your doodles, the hand-written notes, and the red blotches on the top of your hand where you scrubbed off “I love Marcus” before you got home from school. She will say things like, “you better not have a boyfriend” or “you only love me.” You will think she is bitter because she hates the sport, but to you love is not a game and you and Marcus will live happily ever after. In high school, you won’t even know Marcus anymore (he will move further north), you will continue playing the same game, with puppy love victories and heart-shattering losses.

Research the players. As a college student, you will dream of the major league and the oversized diamond. Watching the sorority girls with their perfectly clear skin recruit the top talent, you will realize quickly through all-nighters and after-hour tutor sessions that none of them are a great catch. You’ll debate their stats and trade them out like trading cards. A full roster, all L’s.

Run the bases. You will lose to the frail girl with the awkward ponytail. Your once favorite sport will begin to push you harder than the opposing team. You will approach 25 and you will feel like an unfit competitor for the first time in your career. Consider retiring all together.

Stop playing the game. You will go to another wedding ceremony of a childhood friend, get teary eyed and wonder when you will make it to the championship. If only you could get over that last tragic loss, the one you thought was a for sure win.

Prep for the next contender with a new, confident, “I can keep a man” attitude because the books tell you you’ve been playing all wrong. Your new fan favorite promises to take you to The World Series. Believe him. You’ll want to wear his jersey instead of your own.  You will still feel uneasy about stepping back out on the field with all the resurfaced dirt and bright lights, but you love baseball.

You never make it past first base. You will realize you never liked the guy you just love the game. You will disregard the previous inning, your losing streak, the ripped and bruised muscles given by past most valuable players, and the many rivalries. You can’t stop playing.

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