"I want, I want, I want ... but that's crazy"

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

I finally saw my beloved Man United

The fact that I haven't blogged about my trip to see Man United in Kansas City on Sunday yet just goes to show you how severely overworked I've been lately.

But here goes -

How do I describe something that is beyond words?

At work today, I kept being asked, "How was it?" I answered, "It was a religious experience," which always got a laugh. But it wasn't funny. It wasn't an exaggeration. It wasn't even adequate.

I started out with my daughter in tow at 4 a.m. on Sunday. We drove 12 hours, and for a lot of it, I didn't know if I was going to make it. I'd only managed to get about 4 hours of sleep, so I was exhausted even as we began. We made it, with little time to spare, and since I couldn't get an early check-in to my room, my Twitter friend Dee said my daughter could hang out in her room during the match.

Upon arriving at the hotel, I immediately got a burst of energy. There were people in the parking lot tailgating, and everywhere I looked were the red shirts of United. Finally! I was surrounded by people who *got* my love, my passion, my intensity for this club - and who shared it - even in my own home country.

Dee and I and her friend Kara headed down to catch the shuttle. For me and Dee, this was the approach to heaven. We were brimming with excitement. It only got better and built up more as we rode in the shuttle over, arrived at the stadium, watched the fans in the parking lot...

We met another Twitter friend, Robin, in the parking lot and had a beer, then we were headed into the stadium.

As we reached our section in the stands, I saw the pitch for the first time. Even from the top of the stairs, it seemed so close. I was agog. Then it was down to our seats, right up front. Suddenly, I realized, we would be sitting at a point where the men of Manchester United would be passing withing just 10 or 15 feet of me.

The electricity of the stands wasn't quite Old Trafford, but most of us were seeing our favorite team play for the first time, so there was a virginal excitement among everyone.

For me, it was almost surreal.

I'm not the type for hero worship or being starstruck - I've had quite a few brushes with the rich and/or famous in my life (and some considerably more than "brushes") - but the moment I first saw Edwin Van der Sar run out on the pitch and wave his arms to rouse the crowd, the reality of it hit. I was there, and within moments *they* would be there.

And then they were. I took about a hundred photos of the match, but most of the time, I didn't even know what I was shooting. I watched, and I couldn't blink. Much of the time, I didn't even know what was happening with the game itself. I was just drinking in the presence of the players I've come to love so much.

The heat was scorching. The humidity was suffocating. Still, I didn't even feel it. The just reveled in the experience and consumed the energy. Everything was in slow motion. Every moment seared itself into my brain to be preserved.

We lost. I didn't care. In a way, it almost completed the experience. I'd run the full gamut of emotion - almost. I wasn't heartbroken. I couldn't be. I was *there*.

I suppose I can't begin to try to explain to anyone who hasn't felt such a passion for a team. Those who understand it, share it, and those who don't share it will never understand it. Glory, glory Man United!

(Just finished watching the match against the MLS All-Stars and a glorious 5-2 for my boys!)

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