You’re all a bunch of suckers.
You’ll be glued to your TVs tomorrow, breathlessly, possibly nervously, finger beer bottles and/or lucky rabbits feet. You’ll don your scarves and jerseys, finagle a few hours of freedom from eye-rolling significant others. And I’ll be laughing. I’m going on vacation. I’m getting away from it. I’m not checking the score and I’m not worried about the result. Perhaps we’ll win–I hope we do–but mostly I’ll be breathing deeply for the first time in weeks, letting it all go. I won’t be on a beach and I won’t be sitting still, but I’ll be smiling and walking slowly. Most of all, I won’t be filling up with hate or adrenaline. I won’t be holding my breath when the ball is near the box. I won’t be screaming at someone to do something. Vacation.
I’ll look out across a field in a part of the country I’ve never been to before and the blue I see won’t be blau and the red I see won’t be grana. They won’t even be Jayhawk colors. I won’t connect the white I see with They’ll just be pretty colors. I won’t be checking email or writing blog posts. I won’t be thinking about formations or squad health. I won’t be thinking at all.
It’s been too many. It’s been too much. We’ll play and we’ll win or we’ll lose and then we’ll go back to what it was before: nervous tapping on keyboards, filling the time between matches with as many words as possible. I’ll be there, doing that, but later, after I’ve disconnected. After I’ve learned how to breathe again. After I’ve learned how wake up without considering how to fit everything I need to say into a post people will read.
It’s Madrid, it’s el clasico, and it’s me gone for a few days. Not long. But long enough. I’ve had enough of anger. I’ve had enough of caring whether or not Mourinho is happy right now or if he’s just a [insert your favorite curse]. I’ve had enough of screaming profanities at Pepe, enough of trying not to think the ref is biased, enough of connecting historical dots to present day athletic competitions.
I’m not even checking squad lists. I don’t care. I hope Abidal plays and I hope Abidal scores. I hope Abidal subs on to rapturous applause. I hope Tello plays. I hope Villa plays. I hope Alexis is in on goal and smashes one by Diego Lopez with authority. Not because I need us to win, but because I want to learn to love again. If they don’t do these things, if Abidal remains in Barcelona, if Tello is an 88th minute sub, if Diego Lopez calmly grabs Alexis’ shot, I will learn to love again anyway. Because it’s time to do that. It’s time to stop worrying and learn to love the bomb. It’s el clasico and I won’t be watching. And I won’t be worried. And I won’t be here.
It feels good just to write that. Mourinho may claim moral victory, yet I definitely feel victorious at the moment. I doubt I’m any taller, but at least the mental weight is off. It might just be a thing where I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’m going on vacation during a clasico, so I might as well find the positives in it or it might have something to do with the 16 point gap between the 2 teams (13 even if we lose!), but whatever it is, I’d like to bottle it and make billions. That old thing Hector Pills? A children’s dose compared to what I’m on.
Can you make this deal with yourself: enjoy the game. Win or lose, can you enjoy it? Can you look at the team and pick out the fun? Can you see how good Iniesta is? Can you be awed by how Puyol can get in position a full minute before the ball is there? Can you admire Xavi’s endurance? Can you take in an Alexis run and notice its timing rather than its finished product? I won’t ask you to think any positive thoughts about Madrid–even I’m not on something that strong–but can you forgo the negativity for a day? If sport is spectacle, this is the Big Top during the grand finale, the elephant balanced on one leg while fireworks threaten to burn the whole thing down.* Why not enjoy it? Why not be those Bradford fans at Wembley sticking it out until the last minute, down by 5?
Me? I’ll be eating biscuits and gravy until I pass out.
The game kicks off in the afternoon – 4pm CET on Saturday 2nd March
Click here to convert the match time to your timezone: Real Madrid vs. FC Barcelona
*I’ve never been to the circus. Is this what happens? If it is, I want to go to the circus.