Everything I said to myself last week was in an Eeyore voice. Perhaps it's because we lost our football game in overtime. But I know the drill: look forward not backwards. That philosophy usually works for me, except last week I was invited to travel alongside my husband's team with fellow coaches wives. If you are looking for a strong, independent, empathetic, kindhearted friend who will always have your back I suggest you go find yourself a coaches wife. You run the risk she may move away from you one day, but her friendship is worth that risk. I was surrounded by these wonderful ladies and our trip was just that, wonderful, well until game time.
I “ostrich" during away games. Translation: I choose to stay home and busy myself with mundane thoughtless projects while watching the game. There I can be neurotic, emotional, detached, vocal and watch without worry of judgment. I get lost in alphabetizing my spices, scrubbing grout on my hands and knees and purging junk drawers as a distraction. I can mute the TV commentary while celebrating touchdowns and tackles with shameless abandon. Basically, I am free to be my true football self.
But, having just witnessed first hand last week's game day ritual, forgetting this loss was much more challenging. Seeing the players march to their meetings was immense. Watching the buses roll out with a police escort made my stomach plummet. Having to sit among our opponent’s fans, who were mostly polite, was just too much for this girl. I excused myself to use the bathroom and that’s when our offense scored. Being beyond superstitious, I spent the next two quarters there. In the bathroom watching the game on the television so kindly installed for people just like me! I cheered respectfully for my team while dolling out paper towel to those who washed their hands! Yup, you read that right my friends, I will save that for another blog!
We took the lead in overtime and things were looking up. Up until the other team responded with a touchdown to win the game, putting our team on the wrong side of the win-loss column. If you thought it was difficult for me to watch pregame, imagine post-game. Sitting among a team of people whose every waking second of their working lives is geared towards winning was overwhelming. There was nothing glamorous, exciting or enjoyable about our trip home as I sat quietly among coaches grading game film other than landing safely in Philadelphia.
A few mornings later I again traveled alongside fellow coaches wives, but this time to volunteer with New York City Relief*. Our early morning drive together was again wonderful, until game time. As we arrived at our destination so too did my game day jitters. There on a NY City sidewalk were the people we traveled 2.5 hours to help. Our task was to interact and offer support to our new “friends” in need. In need of soup, dry socks, prayer, advisement, counseling, friendship and conversation. The next four hours we stood shoulder to shoulder with wives from another NFL team helping. Not as two separate teams, but as one team working together toward a common goal.
With no bathroom for me to camp out in I determined conversation and friendship was my best option. It took me some time to make my first move, so worried it might seem I was here not to help them but make myself feel better. In the end I corralled up enough courage to sit down beside a “friend.” I looked him in the eyes and said, “Good morning, my name is Allison. How are you doing today?”
I am happy to report I left with more friends than I arrived with. We smiled, shared worries, listened to each other, cried, hugged and made connections. I added a slew of new names to the growing list of people I quietly hope for; for good health, for work, for safe shelter, for a lost passport and for wives whose lives also depend on winning—although for the moment losing seemed so very far away.
Moral: It is very difficult to win, but it just might be far more difficult to lose.
*New York City Relief is an organization whose belief is: Together we’re providing the essentials to survive a day…and a pathway for a better tomorrow. www.newyorkcityrelief.org
A little thing you should know:
“How can we help you?” “My daughter Destiny’s backpack broke this morning.” And just like that I went shopping with two ladies from the “other” team. We had some cash and a phone rigged with apple pay! First stop was Kmart for some sparkly school supplies. Like little kids spilling our combined money on the counter we had just enough. Next we strolled into Modell’s Sporting Goods for a backpack only to find apple pay wasn't working and now we had no other way to pay. Knowing returning without the backpack was unacceptable for us, we did what people in our world do, we game planned. We recruited a kindhearted manager who personally purchased the backpack while we ordered the same backpack online and shipped it to him! After a few hugs and an hour later we strutted down Seventh Avenue like Charlie’s Angels—with a brand new back pack for Destiny!