Jay Edge: Throwing a baseball as a conversation with my boy. (memoir)

Southern Legitimacy Statement: My name is Jay Edge and I’ve been drawing & writing ever since I remember. The one thing I remember doing before drawing and telling stories was roaming the woods behind my grandparent’s home. I’d sew a sheath for my rusty machete, head out the back door to spend the day searching out snakes on red clay riverbanks, to push through bamboo thickets to swingable vines, to distance jump puddles and creeks, and to be gladly lost beneath the gradations of light towards night.

I’ve skateboarded packed mud on several occasions and I’m no stranger to home-cooked foods piled upon paper plates. I run distance across mountain trails and my writing resembles the rhythms of my runs.

The NC piedmont is the land of my birth, the mountains are the space of my college and early adulthood, and the beach is my current home. I’ll probably never leave NC, despite my wife’s protestations. We do travel often, just to shift the dust on our shoes. It’s a win-win compromise.

Throwing a baseball as a conversation with my boy.

Baseball mitts, late July. Throwing with my 8 year old son.

We throw ball and the heat beats without mercy. For the moment, on this morning, the sound of a baseball hitting the glove, this is everything important, everything immediate. It is a complete moment.

Kyote seems happy if distracted. We go through this: excited and alert, interested but distracted, distracted to the point of no longer really playing, reeling him back in to solid throws. He’s got a damn fine arm, so he can find a good velocity.

The ball carries a heat today. Some is summer heat, some our arms and their intensities. But late July in Wilmington is like a sauna. Leaves fall from trees like wild ashes.

My boy sweats, I sweat, but we just keep cycling the ball back and forth, back and forth, a few words spilling into the rhythm. A hymn of action. A chant of body, not unlike a run.

The ball is firm, conveys a proper wear. It’s roughed up right, the briny wear secures our grip. Our sweat and the salt of it dries the leather against the wrapped cork. The seams remain clean and crimsoned, readable in air. They remain taut and natural in the reach of fingers.

We work fastballs, sliders, curves. We throw wild or languid or lazy and we catch the same. We experiment with each throw, trick our catches. We have much to learn about throwing but the catch is a full pleasure.

The achievement of a strong acoustic pluck, the leathery snap of catch, that’s the sound we hunt. That’s the hope at the end of each throw. We culminate from fingers, wrist, elbow, shoulders, spine, all the way through the anchoring foot, a sense of power delivered by a ball.

To bring the ball home solid, that’s the point on both ends.

It’s a conversation, the throwing of ball. Mood, distraction, disinterest, focus, well-formed philosophies … all components of conversation, simultaneously quiet and loud across the space of our yard.

I might teach my boy a thousand histories with a clean-seamed ball, a strong worn mitt, an hour on a grassy lawn. He might remind me of ancient lessons, and we keep at it intently.