Jodi Hills

So this is who I am – a writer that paints, a painter that writes…


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There used to be a ballpark.

I wonder if the birds realize how much things have changed. Do they fly over and think, “Wow, they are really packing the houses in!”? Are their favorite trees still there? Do they move their nests from year to year?


We were driving down Van Dyke Road yesterday. The first road I remember. The first road my feet touched. Probably my knees. My bike tires. But for the sign with its name, it was almost unrecognizable. Every empty lot that we ran around, cut across, kicked balls, and chased each other in, every lot was filled. House after house.

Frank Sinatra sang, “There used to be a ballpark”:


And there used to be a ballpark
Where the field was warm and green.
And the people played their crazy game
With a joy I’d never seen.

We went to see the Nortons – anchors of our former VanDyke Road neighborhood. We laughed and hugged, with the joy I remember, the joy that still lives on, maybe not on the same road, but always in the path of my heart.
The birds are still singing, because they know where to look. Up. Always up. Sitting in the Norton house our spirits were forever young, forever “warm and green.”


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Slugger.

He was an older man in the church we attended. If I did know his name, I don’t remember it now. But I remember him. I remember his voice. He always greeted me with, “Hey, Slugger!”

I was just a young girl. I threw like a girl. I hit like a girl. And I was proud of it. I loved it. The sport was fun, but I think it was more the sun. The freedom of summer. The belonging with the girls. I suppose it was the first time I belonged to something bigger than myself.

When my parents divorced, it seemed this church decided to break up with us as well. I didn’t understand. My mother didn’t understand. It was subtle at first. Doors dropped in front of us. Coffees cancelled after services. We didn’t belong anymore. In a place where all should be welcomed, we were forgotten, all but for this one voice. This old man, who still saw me. Still called me by my heart. Still recognized the strength inside me. Didn’t see me as broken, but a fighter, possibly even a winner. Those two words, “Hey, Slugger!” — the most Christian words I ever heard.

Yesterday, we went to the home of the Louisville Slugger. I didn’t buy a bat. I didn’t need one. I know who I am. I have faith. And I am strong.

I want to be a voice that gives you hope, gives you strength. You can do this! We can do this! I believe it! C’mon team!