This past Saturday night represented a first for me, as I was invited to attend my very first professional soccer (futbol, for the dilettantes) match. 

The Seattle Sounders, you will be happy to know, were victorious in their final regular season game with an exciting push in the last fifteen minutes of the game.  Even as someone who had never watched a Sounders game in my life, it was impossible not to get caught up in the thrill of the crowd (and the riotous anger when they felt the refs had blown a call).

I grew up playing (and sucking at) soccer, as well as watching my older siblings play at various levels in both outdoor and indoor leagues (my sister even played college ball for a short period).  It’s a sport I appreciate a great deal but don’t follow because, well, I don’t follow any professional sports.

College basketball is my one athletic interest, and I think my obsession makes up for my utter disinterest in every other sport.

It’s true what they say, though, watching a game live is much better than watching on TV.  This is probably true for most sports, but I think if you could convince a larger US audience to actually attend soccer matches, it would probably be a much bigger phenomenon here.  Even for someone like me who is an awe of the pure stamina is must take to play the sport, I just can’t get myself to be anything more than a passing fan of the sport.  I don’t watch on my own, but watching with a crowd is fun.

So, yeah, go Sounders!

I was invited to the game by an old college friend who, along with his wife, had an extra ticket.  The last time I saw either one of them must have been at the wedding of one of my college roommates (a guy I lived with during my freshman, sophomore and senior years).  Of the eight or so guys who I spent most of my time with in college, I think all but two of them have gotten married, a few of them have kids and all of them are marching forth in some professional manner or another.

I don’t see these guys much, obviously, but it’s always good when I do.  Male friendships are easy.  They aren’t always the deepest of connections, but that’s what makes it so simple to hang out again after years apart.  There is a common language developed from shared experiences and inside jokes that can be called up without delving into the years of separation.  In fact, I would say that the ‘shallower’ the friendship, the easier to reconnect.  With closer ties, the changes that each friend has undergone over the years become all the more noticeable.

That can be sad for some, but I think of it as a good thing.  How terrible would it be to never change?  I think we all know that friend who lives in the past, subsisting on their past successes or conquests.  Pathetic, right?

Speaking of the past:

My 10 Year high school reunion is in a month.  I won’t be attending, though that shouldn’t be taken as some sort of angsty statement.  If I happened to be in town that weekend, I probably would go just to see it.  But, I won’t be, so I won’t.  No matter, I’m pretty sure I’d be just as anonymous at the reunion as I was in high school.  It wasn’t really my time back then.  Even in my group of friends, I was a bit of an outsider (it didn’t help that I was a fervent Christian at that point; talk about changes). 

College was the period when I really started to come into my own, which is another reason why I think seeing the old college roommates and assorted friends is still fun, not something I dread, as can be the case with some past acquaintances.

If I hadn’t had those four years of growth in college, I don’t think I could have survived this 10 Cities Project.  I certainly never would have made it if I had attempted to do this straight out of high school.  Some people say “College isn’t for everyone,” and that’s probably true, but I for one recommend it.  Not for the education or the classwork, but for the friendships and networking, the partying and the mistakes.  Actually, I think the mistakes are the best part.  You have a period in your life when most of your mistakes are going to have absolutely no real world consequences.  At the time, you’ll think they are life altering, but in retrospect you’ll see how inconsequential they were.  And you’ll still have the lessons learned.

And just knowing that around this country, from Seattle to Orange Country, from Chicago to Nashville, there are small pockets of friends and acquaintances to meet, have a beer and watch [Local Sport Team] with is a pretty nice return on my investment.

Not that I paid for college, I was on scholarship.  Bitches.