Saturday, October 22, 2016

In which I keep a promise and New York's team becomes London's team

Some of you that know me personally, or that have read this blog, may recall that I have a sister currently residing across the pond in London, England. Many more of you probably know that this weekend, the New York Giants are following her so they can take on the Los Angeles Rams at Twickenham Stadium. Lastly, there is a specific cross-section of you that know two and a half years ago, when my sister moved to London, I made her one promise.

"If the Giants play in London while you live there, I will fly to England and visit you the weekend of the game."

Some of you (probably none of you) may remember 10 months ago when I detailed the complicated and uncomfortable ("Fly Eagles, Fly?") process that led to this point, but the gist of it is, on Wednesday morning, I arrived at London-Gatwick International Airport, and on Sunday afternoon (though I suppose it'll be morning for the rest of you), I will be in the stands at Twickers watching Big Blue take on whatever team the Rams feel like being this week. I was never really sure that this day would come considering I thought me rooting for the Eagles last December was a sign of the apocalypse -- at least until I realized the apocalypse was still 10 months away.

It should certainly be an interesting weekend and I've heard rumor of how bizarre these matchups can be. My brother-in-law, who is a Giants fan and will be attending with me, has been to a few of these London games before only to find that the crowd is strangely unenthused as they view the spectacle with more curiosity than intensity, and they also wear whatever NFL jersey they happen to have lying around. That is to say that the Giants and Rams may be the only teams on the field, but I will almost certainly see Jaguars and Seahawks paraphernalia popping up in the crowd.

That is to be expected, however, I have a feeling the Giants will have a better showing than the average London visitor. For one, New York being as close as it is to London, the flight is a relatively quick jaunt compared to other past London participants like San Diego, New Orleans or, in this year's case, Los Angeles. By comparison, I've seen the Giants play in both San Francisco and San Diego, two locations that are only marginally closer to New York than London despite being in the same country. For another, New York has a significant number of ex-pats in London and Giants games are typically played at times that aren't too inconvenient for a New York transplant in the UK to watch, 6 pm or 9 pm local time.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Writing the pages

The Mets' 2016 season ended last Wednesday in a heartbreaking one-game playoff against the San Francisco Giants, who, in turn, had their own heartbreaking denouement last night against the Chicago Cubs. When we experience trauma, it is a common human response to bury ourselves in work or other preoccupations so we don't have to face our own pain. I'm not sure fi that is exactly what I've been doing for the past week, but as my mom will be selling her house in the next few weeks, and I must clean out my childhood in the process, that outlet for keeping one's head in the sand is certainly available.

I have been at this, on and off, for several months now, and each trip uncovers a new bevy of new gems, be they a fantastic unused homework organizer that features Bill Pulsipher, a Devils championship and Bryan McCabe, Wade Redden and Todd Bertuzzi in Fisherman jerseys, an inside look at your artistic skills when you were nine or your nuanced grasp of Maslow's hierarchy of needs. The true gems, however, are the ticket stubs. My obsession with pristine ticket stubs is a curious quirk to many, but I feel quite strongly about their utility as record keepers. As I like to say, "Our lives are a book and ticket stubs are the pages." Of course, I didn't really feel this way when I was younger, but the idea must have been percolating, as I've discovered stubs dating back as far as a circus I attended in 1991.

I was hoping to find more ticket stubs over the course of this search than I have, but the few I've come across as well as references to games I attended in letters to and from my mother while I was at summer camp, have helped me color in my sports experiences more than I would have thought. On my most recent trip this past Monday, I found one of the true white whales of my youth. Late in the afternoon I was sifting through papers and tests from my middle and high school years, much of which would head straight to the recycling bin. It's astonishing that my attic has so many old algebra testss in it to go along with the occasional paper examining Catch-22 from Mr. Pedulla's sophomore-year English class. Lost in the muck of those old papers and Five Star Notebooks, however, was one of the white whales of my youth.

On Monday, I found the ticket stub from my first hockey game.