Saturday, June 13, 2009

a bittersweet Stanley Cup championship

i've never wanted to go home more than on Saturday morning, about 4:30 Prague time, when Marc Andre Fleury made a miraculous save in the waning seconds of the third period and the Pens won the Stanley Cup.

i watched it from an internet feed of dubious legality in the living room of my friend's apartment. it was me, the light of the computer screen, and my friend Liz who was drifting in and out of a drunken sleep after a night of partying and dancing at Akropolis.

"Liz! Stay up! There's only two minutes left!"

"Yeah, okay, I'm up, I'm up," she said, as she closed her eyes again and left me alone to witness what Pittsburghers have been dreaming about since the early 90s.

In the 2 years I've spent in Prague, I've missed the Pens appear in two Stanley Cup finals and win one, the Steelers win a Superbowl, and the Pitt Panthers nearly make it to the Final Four. last year i spent $1000 to fly home to watch the last three games of the Stanley Cup, only to watch the series go to the seemingly unstoppable Wings, convinced that if there were some way the Pens could manage to win there was no way in hell i could have rationalized missing it.

but they lost. it was still worth it, but in the months following, as the Steelers came closer to their Superbowl victory, I began formulating a little superstition: when i'm away from Pittsburgh, my teams seem to perform much better.

so this year, as much as I wanted to pack up a month early and head home in June instead of July so I could catch what I knew would be an amazing Stanley Cup series, I couldn't do it. i'm the jinx. if i went home, they'd lose.

so i watched from the computer with only half-asleep Liz to celebrate with as Sid lifted the cup. and afterwards i called friends back home, and listened as they celebrated in their living room, then listened as they swarmed the streets, yelling and screaming and running around and high-fiving perfect strangers who, for one night, they had something in common with.

i'm not married, i don't have children, haven't made any huge accomplishments in any career or won any awards. call me irrational (though i have a feeling if you're also from pittsburgh, you won't), but this was the most important day of my life. and i have a feeling it was one of the most important days for the rest of the people from my hometown, too.

and to not be there to share it with them, that broke my heart a little. the feeling of pride that can't really be expressed by words is cut down to 1/100th of what it would have felt like had i been in pittsburgh.

i may sound overly dramatic or insane, but this win would have been so much better had i been able to celebrate it with people who can totally understand.

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