“You mean when you were ten and I was eight.”
“Excellent math, Reese.”
“So you’re saying we grew out of it?” she challenged.
“Just a little bit.”
“Fine. Forget autographs. So why don’t you just go down and say hi? Tell him you admire him.”
I stared at her like she was crazy. “No. Just no. I’m going to college in a month. I was recruited to play at a great school with an awesome baseball program. I’m not going to go fanboy on a major leaguer.”
Reese pushed on. “For any particular reason?”
“Because . . . I don’t fanboy. It’s just . . . not cool,” I said, then I returned to watching his at-bat.
Fanboy just wasn’t the type of guy I wanted to be.
I wanted to be like these guys someday soon. If I bumped into a ballplayer at a coffee shop or on the street, I might say something. But going up to them when little kids were asking for their signatures was not my speed.
Besides, Declan was simply a hot ballplayer who was out. He was like James Fitzgerald, who played hockey in New York. Or that pitcher for the San Diego Devils who’d married his high school sweetheart. Prom king and king.
There were a handful of out players in the various majors. Surely that was why I crushed on Declan.
And a crush was just a crush.
No big deal.
He would live in the back of my mind, along with Luke Evans and Frank Ocean and other out guys in Hollywood, and that was all.
When the inning ended, Reese patted my leg. “Fine, we won’t go talk to him, but you have to admit . . . this is cool.”
She waggled her phone at me, opened to Instagram.
“Look. He shared a post in June for Pride from the Trevor Project, saying it was a good organization to support,” she said, with a big grin. “That’s one of your favorite charities too.”
It was. But still. I wasn’t going to devote time to looking him up online, checking out every interview.
I heaved a sigh. “You’re not going to be one of those friends who shows me every post of his just because he’s hot, are you?”
She flashed a maybe I will smile. “We’ll see.”
“You’re terrible. Talk about something else,” I said, with a laugh.
She huffed. “Fine. I’m going to miss you when you go to college.”
I draped an arm around her. “You know I’ll miss you.”
“What are you looking forward to the most? Are you going to get involved with student groups or anything?”
That was an excellent question. One I’d thought about a lot lately. Ever since some shit went down after I came out to my parents.
“I think I’ll see if there’s a queer club. Some sort of LGBTQ org. I want to tell my own story. I don’t want others to do it for me. I’m already going there as an openly gay guy, so it’s just easier to embrace it.”
“Because of what happened?” she asked, a little heavily, since she knew the deets on what went down a few months ago with my parents at the end of my senior year.
“Yup. I just want to make sure I’m the one who’s using my voice.”
“I love that. I think it’s a great idea.”
That was what I wanted. To be a part of something.
Maybe that was why I was so intrigued by Declan. He felt like a part of something. A part of the two things that defined me the most—the sport I loved and who I might love.
After that day, I didn’t think about him for the rest of the summer. I didn’t have time to swoon over him, or many other guys, for that matter, since college started soon.
In August, I headed off to campus. Even though the baseball season wouldn’t start till winter, we still practiced and worked out as a team. That kept me busy in the mornings.
I added an extra class my first semester. My goal was to complete all my credits in three years instead of four. If I could pull that off, and if I was good enough behind the plate as a catcher, I could enter the Major League Draft at the end of three years of school.
My parents hadn’t gone to college, so earning a degree had always been a dream of mine.
Right along with playing pro baseball. Twin goals.
Those were the two things I cared the most about. So I focused on them, and I forgot that brief summer crush.
Early Fall, Freshman Year
The game was my reward.
I’d worked out that morning, hitting a new personal best with the bench press. I’d taken a History 101 test and aced it. And I’d turned in my first English class essay. I’d also gone to a meeting of the LGBTQ club.
After a busy day like that, I wanted to relax.