Almost three years ago to this day, I decided to go to the stadium earlier than usual for our game. I was in Portland and the stadium was then called Jeld Wen.
I put all my stuff down in the empty locker room, grabbed a pen and my journal out of my backpack and walked out into a desolate stadium. It was so quiet and so peaceful. I sat on our bench and started to write everything I was feeling about being out there. I poured my heart out for a good 30 minutes.
I have so many memories playing at Jeld Wen (now Providence Park), yet this one sticks out above all the others. It was as if I had my own special time with the stadium that brought me closer to it than before.
We have these moments in life. Where something draws us in so close that we feel we have a special bond with it. I wasn’t the first person to sit in that stadium alone, nor was I the last. But I don’t think about those other people and the possibility of those shared moments. I think about the special bond I have with the stadium and how it’s different from what other people have.
I think we have this with places, with things, with people. Places have a way of feeling like they’re ours. Like the soccer field I grew up playing on, or the beach near my house. I feel drawn to those places and extremely nostalgic going there. I want to go there to not only satisfy the pull, but to also replay in my mind the memories that keep bringing me back there.
People have a way of making us feel a certain way that we crave. The idea that we can be pulled toward a person or group of people because they made us like ourselves better. Because they made us happy.
Think about movies, songs, books, smells or sounds. Things that put us in an almost hypnotic trance because of the way it makes us feel or the memories they remind us of. Nostalgia is a helluva drug.
Last night I dressed for the first time for FC Kansas City. We played the Thorns in Portland at Providence Park. I was drawn to the stadium as soon as it was in sight. It all felt familiar and reminded me of a good time in my life.
As the game went on and I continued warming up for a potential opportunity to step on that field for the first time in three years I realized something. I was being pulled by two things at once. The feeling of being in the stadium and then the feeling of closeness, of comfort of love from my teammates. I haven’t known them very long but what they have done for me in the past three months is something I’ll never forget as long as I live. They met me at one of the most vulnerable times in my life. They’ve taught me that a few small obstacles in life do more than set us back, they set us up. Set us up for what’s next in life or for the next version of our self to surface.
Stepping on the field for stoppage time in the 2-1 win over the Thorns was an emotional experience for me. It doesn’t seem like much from the outside. But inside I felt like a new person stepping on the field. I have never appreciated stepping on the field more. How do I know? Never in my life have I hoped to get hit by a ball in the wall, but Saturday night I wanted to. Just to contribute in some way to a group of people who have basically brought the best back out of me, on and off the field.
When all is said and done, we don’t get to experience the same exact thing twice in a lifetime. We get it once, and if it’s special enough it will keep pulling us back to it. It’s our job to appreciate the moments of the pull and allow ourselves to feel whatever it is it makes us feel.
After all, the things that we’re drawn to have made us who we are and even more than that, have shown that it feels so freaking good to be alive.