Monday, February 7, 2011

Black and Gold Clouds Hang Over the 'Burgh

The city fell quiet at some point yesterday.  Earlier in the day, I heard the sounds of boys playing street hockey, but then, suddenly, you could hear a pin drop; nothing and no one moved on the streets around my tiny home.  Everyone was getting into Game Mode.  Then, some people began to arrive at certain houses and sports bars and others, like myself, made to leave to get to their appointed watching spot, and the city came back to life, with almost everyone in view in Steeler black and gold.  Certain businesses closed early for the game, others were gearing up for a Christmas-like business boom.   The Pens had been blanked by the hated Capitols earlier in the day, and I wondered how the dual sports fans, like my neighbor, took that:  with foreboding for the larger game to come or a sign that the Bad Karma for the city was expended and would be erased altogether later in the day.  For my part, I couldn't shake the feeling that the Penguins were the tip of an iceberg.

And, with that gloomy thought and a nervous pre-game jitter eating away at me like an ulcer, I left Cheyenne behind and headed toward Washington, PA, ideally an hour away, to watch the game with my cousin at her daughter's home.  Almost without surprise, I got horribly lost, missing or mis-reading an exit somewhere in the city.  Nearly an hour and 40 minutes and at LEAST six phone calls to my patient cousin later, I made it to my destination.  From there, we traveled the short distance to her daughter's home, where a group of ardent fans awaited kick-off.  I made us so close to the wire that I missed whatever flub happened during the National Anthem.  I saw something about it on my iGoogle page today.  I didn't care to look deeper.  I dismissed it with a shrug and thought that even celebrities have bad days every so often.

Of course, whether you watch football or not, if you're not living under some rock somewhere, you probably know the outcome of the game.  The drive back was a somber experience indeed.  And, just to add to the fun, a wreck on the winding hill to my neighborhood had the road completely blocked off.  As soon as I turned off, I was incredibly, horribly lost once more on the twisting, curving, dark roads that make up this town.  It was past midnight before I finally found my house again, almost by pure luck.  My poor dog was so badly traumatized, she literally howled at me as I made it in the door, her coyote roots taking over.  Today she has refused to budge more than a foot from me, literally making sure part of her touches part of me at some point almost always.  Finally, in the late afternoon, she consented to sleep on one end of the sofa as I worked from the other, but it was temporary respite, she is back to sleeping on the hardwood floor at my feet now instead of the padded blanket I have for her two more feet away.  Seems like every citizen of the 'Burgh, even the four footed ones, had a Black Cloud Day yesterday.

And the hangover continues into today.  Once more, the area seems unnaturally quiet.  Movement is happening, but with a somber silence, because the same neighbors who can't quite seem to make it outside to take down their Christmas nativity scenes or garland (I swear 40% of the houses in Shaler still have some holiday decoration up and visible), stealthily whisked away all those Steeler decorations.  A few hearty souls, like my next door neighbor, have continued to fly their banners, but, as I explained to a friend, I would be amused if I weren't just so darned depressed.

Even the weather seemed to concur, the clouds hanging oppressively in the sky, rain falling from the lead-colored sky, mixing with the remaining snow to make grey mush.  Even the snow looks depressing, for crying out loud!

So, if the saying "misery loves company" has any merit, I have an entire city of unhappy comrades.  I could take some comfort in the fact that I am not alone in having absolutely lost sight of the fact that this was just a game and the Steelers are just a football team if I were of a mind to be comforted.  I tried to watch some SportsCenter tonight, but found I can't stomach it yet.  I can't even tell you who the MVP is, although I suspect it is Aaron Rodgers, whom I genuinely feel glad for.

Will there even be football next season?  The Steeler Nation has to add that worry to their mourning. Can we avenge this loss, or will our favorite players be taking up knitting or refining their golf game next September?

For me, it's an escape:  it carried me through the dark second year numbness and made me feel emotions I was scared for a time no longer existed inside me.  I'm not sure what excuse everyone else in this town has for being completely without a reasonable level of objectivity.  I just know it's awfully quiet out there.

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