A month of working seventy hours a week meant that I was ready for a break. While I love times of chaos and impossible deadlines, eventually my brain rebels and I can’t do anything that involves thinking for a couple of days.
So, at the suggestion of my son and his friend, we went to a Redskins game.
You might think that a Redskins game would in no way alleviate my stress, due to our questionable record. But that questionable also record brought down the cost of tickets, so we ponied up.
And when we got up at 7:00 a.m. on a Sunday morning, I questioned our decision. As we hit the beltway, and I began to curse the cars cutting in front of me, I questioned our decision a little more. But soon my son and his friend Travis were regaling us with hilarious stories, and the laughter felt good.
We arrived at the stadium three hours early (our tradition) and walked a couple of miles to and from a local mall, where we visit a sporting goods outlet (another tradition). I bought new shoe insoles because my dogs were barking (I have never used that phrase before – ever).
As the insoles raised my feet causing my toes to go numb, I questioned our decision again.
But as we got close to the stadium, the energy shifted . . .
Stadium workers were yelling, “Have a great day!! Go ‘Skins!” and they seemed to mean it. An older gentlemen starting spontaneously singing “Hail to the Redskins” and several of us chimed in. I looked at my husband and he was smiling, in spite of hobbling slightly due to selecting hiking shoes for the day’s jaunt. My spirit was relaxing.
There’s something about a bunch of people dressed in similar jerseys, cooking food, playing cornhole and laughing together that makes me want to run around and hug the world. Unfortunately, the excessive drinking before the game turned into one fistfight in the stands.
But even that was fun, because neither of the combatants landed a punch, and we were all in it together.
After the first half, when we fell behind by 24 points, I thought the fun might have turned to a desperate need for group therapy. I looked around and saw bowed heads in hands, heard fans booing the team, and even saw one middle-aged woman crying. Oh yea, that was me.
But the boys came back with milkshakes and said, “If nothing else, we’re going to have fun in the second half. It’s a great day to be outside.”
I decided to go with that attitude.
And then things started turning around in a big way . . .
The ‘Skins scored 21 points in one quarter, and the energy in the stadium lifted. I swear the sun came out just as we took the lead.
Whether we would have won or lost, there’s something invigorating about being in a stadium screaming your heart out, high-fiving people you don’t know, chest-bumping a total stranger, banging on seat backs, and singing at the top of your lungs.
Some people cry at romantic movies. I cry at FedEx field.
Yesterday, I reconnected to the child in me who loves to talk to everybody, and laugh, and scream, and eat very large hotdogs.
Even though I had my moments of complaining about the cheerleaders (personal issue), the couple in front of us who took selfies for the majority of the game, and the drunk guy behind us who kept talking to me in a slurred language I could not for the life of me decipher, I loved it.
And when my sweet husband yelled out, “These penalty calls are incongruous!” I laughed out loud.
When we won, and I saw an entire stadium of people jumping up and down screaming, I thought – this is it. This is happiness.
Not because we won, but because work problems dissipated in the joy; our fear of strangers fell away with high-fives; racial tensions were non-existent as we group hugged. We were all one huge group of kids having a good time.
Back to Reality
Yesterday was a soul-day, and I wish it could last forever. But when I chest-bumped a woman at the dry cleaners this morning because my laundry was ready, I realized it can’t.
It was a little magic sprinkled in a perfect day.
And my soul is grateful.