“Daddy’s sad,” Abigail said this morning, around 8:55 am. She had reason to think I might be unhappy. I was throwing myself around the living room, making a wide range of squealing and sputtering noises. If she’d looked closely – which would have been a challenge since she was with her Momma, sitting on her potty in the bathroom – she would even have seen tears in my eyes.
But Daddy was not sad.
Daddy was very happy.
A day that looked like it was getting off to a bitter start had suddenly turned very sweet. I had spent most of the prior two hours as a bundle of nerves. Actually, that isn’t accurate. I had spent the last three or four days as a bundle of nerves. The US had a must win game this morning against Algeria, a team that – on paper at least – they should be easy. I knew the US history of blowing it at the last moment, of stepping up for the game against the big team and then falling apart in the big game against the average team.
And for 90 minutes, it looked like the US was going to live up to the choke stereotype. I tried to relax and lean back on the couch. But I would inevitable find myself standing, rocking back and forth on my feet, boring my eyes into the television, trying to will the US to make better passes, the ref to make better offside calls. When Clint Dempsey, a clutch player, put a shot off the post deep into the second half, I even told Jessica that I thought this wouldn’t be our day.
With the game winding down, they put four minutes of stoppage time up on the board and it gave me a strange sense of hope. I had been expecting one, maybe two minutes. Four, we might be able to do something with. Four was enough time.
Actually, two was enough time. When Landon Donovan scored that goal I flipped out, running circles around the room, leaping over Abigail’s toys when they posed obstacles to the aforementioned running circles around the room. And yes, it’s true, there were tears in my eyes.
Because this wasn’t just a win in one game. This was the culmination of four years of waiting, hoping that the team would live up to their promise, show the ability that we knew they had. Four years ago I stood in a packed plaza in Kaiserslautern and watched the US play the way we knew they could. I watched the US quiet the massive Italian advantage in the fans and I heard the few US supporters start outshouting them.
And then I watched the inevitable game 3 collapse. This was more than just a win, this was vindication. This was proof that the emotional energy I’ve pumped into this team wasn’t wasted. And did that emotion ever flow today. Just watch Landon in this interview and you’ll see how much that goal meant. Heck, maybe you get a better perspective by watching this local NBC report from the bar where I usually watch the games.
But today wasn’t just about soccer, believe it or not. It was Funtime Jessica’s last day in the office. It will truly not be the same without her. I have trouble even imagining it, so I try not to . I just don’t think about it. But today was her last day. It was time to face it. There were sandwiches. There was cake. And sure, it was an ice cream cake, but even that cake’s sweetness couldn’t shake the ennui that came from losing Jessica. More bitterness.
Or so you might think. JenSara* had a brilliant plan. A plan she’d put into action unbeknowst to almost all. A plan that would take away all bitterness that the day still held.
She got an inflatable bouncy house. Not only was this a fitting celebration of what Jessica meant to all of us, but it was a great way to continue leaping for joy for the World Cup win. What could have been a miserable day, dragging me down into a depressive malaise had become among the most awesome days ever. Easily top ten.
Observe the photos that follow at tremble at the awesome majesty of the bouncy house.
*Update: Apparently the house was Sara’s idea, which was fought for by all of support, particularly Julie. This plan was inacted in the end by Jen.
Also Update: This photo should have been given due consideration: