By Joyce Mandelkern
It is no secret that I don't do well with change. I also was not one of the legions of people screaming for a new stadium. Shea was my home. I grew up there. Pete grew up there. Our marriage grew up there and we brought our boys up there. In some bizarre way, I probably even felt that our Mets didn't deserve better than Shea. Shea is who we were and are. We have always been the team that is a little bit shoddy, but somewhat quirky and charming and maddening at the same time. They could've just remodeled the ladies room and I would've been happy.
And that's not to say that I didn't get stadium envy from time to time. I did. Pete and I often hit the road to see other stadiums. I remember sitting in Petco and turning to him and saying" I want a real ballpark!" I also said, "I want a real team to play in the real ballpark." I was mesmerized by the grandeur of it all - the amenities, the food, the opulence, the cleanliness, the bathrooms! Never in my wildest imagination did I ever think my Mets would have a new home.
My Mets getting a new home means the Mandelkerns get a new home, like it or not. By the end of last season, I was so angry at Shea that I had convinced myself that it was time to leave this "house of horrors" and start anew. All I could remember was the bad times and the painful losses and slow collapses. We need to start fresh. I had had it with this dirty, ugly old place. Get us outta here. The last game of last season was so typical of us to lose. And then to plan the closing ceremony for after the game! Typical dumb Mets! The crowd is so angry and upset! Good riddance to old rubbish. And once the ceremony began, it was cathartic for me. I cried like a baby throughout the entire thing, as my baseball life paraded before me. How could I ever be mad at Shea?
Which brings me to Citi Field. It is new, it is clean, and it is beautiful. My new seats seem to be extraordinary. I am happy with the bathrooms - YAY!!! But truth be told, none of this matters to me. What makes a house a home is the people who live inside it. My same old Metsies are still living and breathing and playing in there, which is why I had to laugh when we lost the home opener in our brand new stadium. That is so us. Typical Mets. When I saw Tom Terrific and Mikey walk out onto the field I cried all over again, right where I left off when they left Shea, because they are my people and they are still here. I need my people. The Mets past and present live and breathe at Citi Field.
It saddens me that I will never be able to take my baby granddaughter to Shea, but I am hoping that Citi Field will become her home, as Shea had become ours. It is all she will ever know as home for our Mets. I am hoping that as she grows, she will come to realize, what we all now know, buildings come and go, but memories last forever.