“Problems cannot be solved at the same level of awareness that created them.” – Albert Einstein

Except when it isn’t.

My husband and I are not huge football fans. I will admit to being an NCAA loyalist. I cheer for my alma maters. I am a dedicated Razorbacks fan, until the few occasions where they play Missouri. Then I am a Mizzou Tigers fan, through and through. Except, of course, in basketball. Then it is the Hogs all the way to the core. Well, and then there’s baseball, in which case it’s professional minor league; my teeth were cut on Rochester Red Wings programs, and as an Upstater, baseball is in my soul. The Southern football permeation never really stuck.

What can I say? My sports loyalties are complicated.

But at the very moment that New Orleans defeated Minnesota in the NFC championships, my husband and I looked at each other and knew we were going to New Orleans to watch the Super Bowl.

Yes. I know the Super Bowl was in Miami. But if you are a New Orleans fan, then NOLA is where the real party is. Nobody throws a party like the Big Easy. Nobody.

This Super Bowl was not necessarily about being a Saints fan (although I will express a deep admiration for Drew Brees).  It’s not even about being a football fan.  It was about being a New Orleans fan.  It was about coming back.  It was about grasping a tiny little bit of redemption.

This has been beaten to death in the media, I know.  But I can tell you from the heart, that all the hype in this case is completely true.  It really was that important.  And I wanted to be home to watch it.

We made the long drive down late into the night and arrived in time to take my son to his first real Mardis Gras parades.  The first parade confused him, but by the second, he was climbing up on the barriers like a native, shouting to the Krewes to “Throw me something, Mister!”.  He ate his weight in King Cake.  He danced to the high school bands.  We took in into the Quarter for beignets and he bought trinkets in the French Market.  For the first time since Katrina, we had returned to New Orleans in happiness and celebration.

There were moments of sadness.  We struck up a conversation with a woman in a shop on Decatur, and inevitably ended up comparing Katrina notes, even now, four years later.  She was from the Lower Ninth, with all the horrible implications of loss that entailed, and I immediately felt that drenching sense of guilt at having abandoned the city.  I told her we were permanently displaced in Arkansas and she nodded.  She looked at me and said “Honey, be glad you got out.  It’s been hard here.  Real hard.  Raise that baby outta here.”  I had tears in my eyes and she smiled.  There was that understanding that those that left and those that remained, we all lost.  There was no shame in our choices and it was not the day for grief.  It was the day to raise our voices to the blue, blue sky and cheer.

We watched the big game in a house packed with ex-pats, flying down from as far away as Minnesota.   We all cried when the National Anthem was played.  People who couldn’t come down called in at every big play.  At the game-clinching interception, we screamed ourselves hoarse.  And when the Saints won, we stared at each other in disbelief for a few seconds and then poured out of our houses to dance on the streets with the neighbors, car stereos blaring, fireworks lighting the night sky and the frost of our breath in the air.  It was beautiful and it was wonderful and we were again in our city.  Back in a city that defied every dire prediction to rebuild.   Back where there were still ruined houses in the streets and blocks of no-man’s wastelands.  But at that moment none of that mattered.  We were all together and the bands were playing, and there was King Cake on the table.

The Saints went to Miami, and they brought us all back home.

February 12th, 2010 at 1:31 pm
5 Responses to “It’s just a game”
  1. 1

    *sniff*

  2. 2

    Have I mentioned the Three Sisters? It’s said by some that there are three sister cities in the South.

    Charleston is the proper sister. She wears pearls and serves tea in china.

    Savanna is the tomboy. She wears jeans and tweed, and serves beer in mugs.

    New Orleans, um. Is the sister NOBODY talks about.

    Atlanta, of course, is not a Southern city. It’s yankefied to the point of losing all Southernness.

    Will

  3. 3
    Kat Says:

    You made me cry. I wish I coulda been there.

  4. 4
    jodifur Says:

    I was routing for the Saints for this very reason. And I was watching to at my BFF’s house, b/c we were w/out power due to the DC area snow storm, which made me think about Katrina even more.

  5. 5
    Deirdre Says:

    I watched the game. I love football. I wanted Peyton to win. But even I can not deny that this game meant more to ya’ll than I will ever understand.

    Congratulations and good game.

    Deirdre