It’s been a weird year. I’ve had a fair few experiences, some of which I hope have left me wiser and all of which have left me older. There’s the general idea out there that 2016 was a banner year for Horrible Things, which certainly feels true when it’s put in listicle or Wikipedia entry format, but someone out there has to be having The Best Year Ever and doesn’t know what all the fuss is about on Twitter. Beyond that, I’m sure someone crowed at the sky when Real Madrid won the Champions League in May, voted for Brexit in June, and then had a social media strop about the Catalan independence movement in July. That may feel weird to read (much less write), but I bet it’s true of at least one person.
This is a massively interconnected world and someone sitting about 8 hours on an airplane from a stadium in northern Spain can have a decently informed opinion about the inner workings of what is, despite its rather commercial image, a fairly local club. Not that I do have an informed opinion, but it’s at least theoretically possible that I do. It’s neat, insofar as I’ve run a blog about the beautiful sport I bumped into one day in high school and fell in love with almost immediately despite my relatively recent arrival on its doorstep, my physical remove from the team I follow, and the relentless intricacy of modern sporting enterprises that loop endlessly through scouting reports, sponsorship deals with various conglomerates, boardroom political shenanigans, and, if you’re lucky, actual game footage sprinkled in occasionally.
Some days I wake up and the second though I have—the first is always dedicated to finding a way to ignore my humanoid alarm clock’s remonstrations about how I’m not getting up to provide her breakfast—is what team Barça is playing or what a great set of goals that was yesterday, I can’t wait to see the highlights again. Some days I wake up and I wonder why any of us care about 22 men on a field kicking a ball around. Some days I wake up and my heart is just ready to start pounding and my blood is trying to stream through my veins fast enough to make a race horse keel over all because those 22 men are about to kick a ball around a field. Sometimes I want to close my eyes and see almost anything other than goalscoring charts and tactical formations.
Our hypothetical Brexitonian madridista is as much a product of this new world as I am and maybe he or she is at home (hopefully asleep given the time difference) not really getting into the mood yet, but knowing that tomorrow will bring something spectacular, whatever the end result. It’s the possibility that resounds in moments like that: it could all be okay tomorrow. And maybe it will be. Though maybe it’s just a game that we play, with ourselves as much as any other way. Or maybe, as we breath out, we really are just a little bit more prepared for the terrible things that happen in our world and maybe that mental space, that escape into something else, gives us the will and the willingness to do something to turn terrible into terrific.
And so, we reach tomorrow, eventually, whether we want to or not. The question, really, is whether or not we face it with fear. And I choose not to. I choose to go to sleep tonight with a normal heart rate and get up tomorrow, put on my blue and red striped shirt, my blue and red striped scarf, my blue and red striped jacket, my blue and red striped hat, and a pair of jeans, and go enjoy myself in the company of friends, without fear. I’ll also probably wear shoes and socks. And unless I planned this really poorly, blue and white striped underwear.
It’s gonna be a spectacle, if nothing else. Buckle up.