At some point in the past 14 months, during the darkest and most desperate days of the pandemic, we all looked inside and asked ourselves, “What would it be, what would be?” that thing that to me would mean the pandemic is largely behind us, and things are back to normal?
For some, it would be a return to their favorite bar or restaurant. For others, it may be that trip that has been postponed for a year. Maybe it’s going to see a live concert or a movie in a real movie theater. Regardless of the individual case, we all have our personal totems that we can turn to and say, âYes, we survived thisâ¦ things are starting to get back to normal. “
It was towards the end of last summer, sometime after the Disney tournament (ed – “MLSisBACK”), that I noticed that I didn’t spend as much time with my son as his boyfriend (as well as his dad), and rather, I was having an increasingly uncomfortable time being an e-learning enforcer , or a stricter discipline on the mask of rules and social distancing or whatever the new roles that this pandemic had asked of us. What was missing, however, were the few hours a week where I was just becoming her boyfriend. He and I hang out less as a father and son with a 33 year age gap, but we’re just “boys” sharing laughs and laughs, and bonding. Of all the things this wonderful life has given me to do and allowed me to do, being a father to my son is still my most favorite thing in the world, but there has been a break in the balance. There was a static and a new inertia.
The problem was clear. You don’t bond without the proper crucible, and while this pandemic raged, this lakeside crucible would remain closed to us. In order for me to feel ‘normal’ again, Toronto FC would have to return home to BMO Field, which would once again allow me to bring my son back to the stadium and add a new chapter to an ongoing story that lasts. for eight years. years, one that started before he even took off his diapers.
The return to BMO Field was not just a mark of celebration for us, it had become a necessity.
Over the past month or so, one by one the signs that we were getting back to normal were all there. There were patios, backyard meetings, haircuts (him, not me unfortunately), drum lessons, and little by little there was that sense of fun in our relationship again. Surely a sign that we had passed the worst.
But then the email from Toronto FC came in that there would be a game this Saturday and maybe I could go!
My immediate thought was “Winning this could be as big as Lotto 6/49!” (Really, I’m a prisoner of the moment, and I didn’t really think about it!) Once the confirmation arrived that I had two tickets, my dilemma came to me. While I am doubly vaccinated, my 8 year old does not qualify for a vaccine, would I risk it by attending this game?
So began this internal debate: Do Ontario’s numbers seem secure enough for him to attend? Is the outdoor environment safe? What are the actual security protocols? Calculating normality and positivity versus security and negativity is not easy, I can assure you.
I considered taking someone else, but are you really going to visit the Pope and take your atheist friend? Can’t do it right? So the decision was made, we were going to double the mask, wear glasses and arrive later to avoid the queues to try and do it as safely as possible … but we were going to go back to the crucible.
I’m not a fan of superstition, but yesterday I might have taken it a little bit to feel that familiarity and comfort that was taken from us on Friday March 13, 2020, the day the world fell. at our feet.
I got gas at the same station as usual, although I had enough room for four dollars of gasoline in my car. We drove the exact same way we always do, although it takes an extra five minutes. We parked in the exact same spot we always do in Lot 2, even though that meant leaving dozens of closer spaces behind us. We walked to the same gate as we always do, although it wasn’t the most convenient for my moved tickets. This was not superstition, but rather an attempt to take back everything that had been taken from us last year. There was an underlying therapeutic challenge against the one-year prison sentence this pandemic had imposed on all of us.
Once we settled into our seats it was so happy to understand everything. The sights, sounds and smells. Everything was catharsis. Yeah, we missed our usual seats, and you can’t replace Colin and his kids, and Taylor, Michelle, David and Justin, but it was pretty darn close.
Yesterday we made some new memories. It turns out that after watching a Man United season fascinated with the Euro Championship and kicking my ass in FIFA ’21, I now had a seatmate who can appreciate some of the finer details. beautiful game. We chatted at a level we hadn’t even talked about before. He was impressed with some of the players’ strategies and techniques and had technical questions about how Toronto FC was put together. The game talk, the hot dogs, the cold drinks, the lake breeze, it all made for an almost perfect evening. I say almost perfect because a win and the ensuing release listening to Depeche Mode on the speakers sound different, you know?
So yesterday, after so many more days than I want to keep track of, we did everything we love to do at BMO Field. The car ride home was talking and laughing. There were laughs. Jokes inside that only he and I could understand. There was a snack of crisps and late night sports chatter as we watched the end of the NBA Finals game, which hadn’t been there for 14 months now.
I don’t know when we’ll be back, because my comfort with 15,000 is very different from that of 7,000, but these are semantics, details that we can sort out later. The option being there presents a freedom that we haven’t had for a long time now. But for now, we’ve got the photos and the selfies to look back at, and a game this coming week that we’ll be carefully sorting out together, as those bonds are not only forged but hardened.
Neither team lost yesterday, but a lot of people came out feeling they won. That’s the beauty of it all. Years from now we won’t remember the wins and losses, the number of goals scored and who did what. This year, more than any other in my life, sport is the backdrop to the larger stories that guide and shape us all. Therapy, normality, whatever it was yesterday, it was all made possible by a simple homecoming.