Tuesday, September 25, 2007

A Tale of Two Cities

Part One:

I grew up watching football in the seventies and eighties. We would meet Sundays at the house of one of my relatives and a room crowded with people would exalt the greats of the gridiron with roars of delight or groans of disgust. As a young child the euphoric jubilee that escalated within me with each burst of cheer that filled the room and every smile that spread across ecstatic faces filled me with a genuine sense of familial comfort. It was a rite of passage many of us experience in this country.

Coming from San Diego, I obviously rooted enthusiastically for the Chargers and hated the Raiders but my favorite player was Lynn Swann of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Swann and the Steelers went on to win four super bowls during the seventies, the last one coming in January 1980 following the 1979 season. That season also became the year that the San Diego Chargers began to elevate their game. With an offensive attack called “Air Coryell” they went to the playoffs four years in a row, falling just short of the big game during the 1980 and 1981 seasons. Unfortunately, Alex Spanos bought the team shortly after that and everything went to hell.

It's interesting that these were the two teams that I followed in my youth when I was a passionate spectator. My interest in football began to wane with the Chargers fall from grace. Rarely did the family meet anymore on Sundays, for obvious reasons (who truly wants to watch their team constantly lose?). I entered my teenage years and my interests changed in life, watching football rapidly fell on my priority list. Over the years, my interest peaked at times for various reasons (drinking and watching football is another rite of passage for most young adult males in this country) and dissipated for other more obvious reasons (met the woman of my dreams and spent all of my time with her). But now, I find myself in my mid-thirties and my football acumen has reached new heights. Also, it's an era when both the San Diego Chargers and the Pittsburgh Steelers are once again among the elite in football.

The year is 2007 and I'm going to tell a tale of two cities, two franchises that find themselves at the top of their game but each heading in a new direction. The path is before them and the way is cloudy, the end cannot be seen. Only one will find its way through the darkness.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...


Wednesday, September 05, 2007

35 Months

Lucas is almost three (two-and-a-half-almost-three) and he's already a little boy, so grown up from that little infant who barely fit into the seat when we brought him home from the hospital. I'm amazed by all of his growth and I try to think back on that small creature who came into our lives and it almost seems like a dream. I can hardly recall all the wonderful struggles and growth we've gone through over the past three years. At the time I imagined that I would never forget (how could I?) but so much has changed so fast that at times my memory escapes me. I guess that's why I'm writing these memories down every month, at least I can come by here every so often and catch a glimpse of what it used to be like.

Pretty soon we'll remember all too well what we were going through those first few days, months, years when Lucas became a constant presence in our lives. In January he's going to be a big brother and I'm going to have two mandatory writing assignments to deliver every month. It's exciting to think that we'll have a new balance in our family structure and a bit terrifying of course, but now I know that we have so much capacity in our lives, so much love to give. I'm looking forward to our new challenge.

An incredible awareness happened this month. Lucas is dreaming.

Two times this month he woke from his nap prematurely and was inconsolable. The first time that it happened I basically just held him until he calmed down enough so that he could face reality. When I told Xtina about our adventure, she suggested that perhaps he had a nightmare. What an amazing idea, right? I never even thought about that when I was trying to figure out what was bothering him but his behavior definitely pointed toward that being a possibility. Well, a few days later the exact same happened again only this time it was much worse. There was nothing that I could do to make him feel better and for the first time in awhile, I was struggling desperately with a wailing child. Then I remembered about what Xtina said and I asked him if he had a bad dream. With a voice that was thick with snot he emphatically told me yes.

For starters I was wondering how in the hell he even knew what a dream was, assuming that Xtina must've told him about dreams at some point in the near past. Then I tried to imagine what could be so terribly horrible that it would completely incapacitate my little man. The only things that truly scare Lucas is the unknown, things like distant thunder or the sound of fireworks (which actually are pretty scary once you stop to think about them, they sound like bombs but really they're harmless, it's fun imitating war!). Anyway, once he felt comfortable enough to speak about his ordeal, I got him to explain his dream to me.

He told me that he had fire on his face and chest, that he was burning.

Whoa. I began to freak out. I didn't know what to make of it. Was it benign? We've had fires out in the desert, even here in the backyard so maybe it was just an embedded memory that got imaginative in a frightening way. Lucas does have a very good imagination so that's definitely a possibility. Was it from a past life? I know that Buddhism mentions past lives but the idea is so unreal and fantastical that I'm a bit skeptical about an awareness that is so uniquely defined, even if our essence existed before in some way. Was it some sort of prognostication? Now I started to scare myself. You see, two days from that moment, Xtina and Lucas were to board a plane for San Francisco and, as this thought began to percolate in my mind, I found that I was convincing myself that they were going to die in a horrific plane crash. The two people that I cherished most in the world would vanish just like that.

This fear began to consume me, all because I suddenly felt that what Lucas was describing to me was an omen of some kind. Is this possible? I don't know, but if people can convince themselves that they used to be the queen of France two hundred years ago then I guess anything is possible. But I'm the type of person who prides himself on the fact that I don't bend to superstition or fear of the unknown or foolish whims of fancy. I always say that it's ridiculous to waste energy worrying about something terrible that might possibly happen at any time in any place to anyone. That's why I have never been afraid of a terrorist attack even after what occurred on September 11, 2001. If something is going to happen then I'll worry about it when it happens. What has all of our worrying got us anyway, besides a lousy Patriot Act?

Anyway, eventually I came to my senses, only after I spoke to Xtina and was able to see her smile and hear her laugh. It's so nice to appreciate the people that you love, right now, in the moment. So that's what I did as my son told me about his nightmare. I held him close and forgot about the laundry that I was supposed to do and thought that maybe he simply got overheated during his nap since it was about a hundred degrees in there.

Goddamn global warming!

Oh, but that's another story for another time and another place.

Labels: , ,