We’re standing outside the bar after the match. He’s even more of a little storm cloud than I am when the Timbers lose. He’s furiously tapping words into his phone, no doubt more anger-tweets about the loud guy who’d sat behind him or the “woo-girl” who was, one match into the season, talking about transfers.
“You okay?” I’m almost afraid to ask.
He looks up from his phone. “No. No, I’m not okay.”
And this is my first morning in Arsenal’s world.
I don’t know the players. I don’t know anything other than what I’ve read on Wikipedia and that Giroud’s hair is Laudrup-perfect and that at some point someone will make derisive comments about Nicklas Bendtner. But here I am.
I’m late because it’s too early on a Saturday morning. I stand in the back, near the door, until the first and only Arsenal goal is scored. The boys have been kind enough to save me a chair that could not possibly be any closer to the screen. I slouch in awkwardly and spend the next two hours drinking black coffee and wondering what I’ve gotten myself into.
And a soft penalty is saved and then lost and the wheels are already off the bus. “Get up!” someone behind me says to a downed player thousands of miles away. “We don’t have any more defenders.” This. This all feels familiar.
I don’t know that I need another club that will break my heart. I have the Timbers and, though things look good now, the heart-breaking will eventually come around again. I have the Thorns with their inconsistent play and questionable coaching decisions. And I have Rangers who are, for now, more of a mess off the pitch than on.
But a young player catches my eye and I know I’m done for. I do like that fire. A little spark is all it takes.