It's the night before my flight. Inevitably, sleeping is a foregone conclusion -- until I happen to drift off, at least, at which time, the conclusion has been reached. But it seems a difficult goal at first, and that's really the point.
So I put on some music -- Explosions in the Sky, if you were wondering, and I'm sure you weren't -- and wait. Not until morning, really. Just until something better to do comes along, and surely it will.
Anxiety builds with all the inevitability of a sunset or death or perhaps some other tired metaphor. Before an away trip, it is nearly unbearable; before a flight to the MLS Cup Final, though? There's an inescapable feeling of dread filling my every pore. Not that I think we'll lose -- no, I'm actually feeling confident about the match. It's the feeling that we could lose. That's the worst thing. If I thought we were certain to lose, I'd travel with that expectation and simply be happy to be there, smiling and singing and .
Expectations, I guess, right?
Thoughts flit rapidly from the potential of the match to disappointments weeks ago. Moments where we could have been great and weren't. And, of course, moments were we shouldn't have been great but managed to be just that. That match against Portland -- the 4-2 win, of course -- and the 2-0 win over LA Galaxy? They don't remove the hesitancy to "believe." Not close. But rationally, I'm right there, and I guess that's the important thing.
I wonder who will start. Is Alvaro Saborio ready? Is Devon Sandoval? It's enough to make me sweat in my chilled apartment (chilled, sadly, out of laziness more than anything, as I don't want to stand to adjust the thermostat.) Out of concern, mostly, that we'll be forced to play Lalo Fernandez as our striker with everyone suddenly catching a bit of a flu. Or that Nick Rimando will stub his finger eating a sandwich, leaving Joao Plata as the only player ready to go in goal. (My fears, it seem, are hardly rational things. I'm seeing a pattern here.)At this point, I just want to take a quick nap, but a morning flight on an hour of sleep doesn't sound fun or much like a good idea.
There's something about this music, by the way. Nothing calming -- it's definitely not that right now. Something keeping my nerves from fraying before I'm in Kansas City. (If you're listening along, maybe you agree. Maybe you don't. Maybe you think I've gone a bit off the deep end. Maybe you're right.)
Will Robbie Findley be the difference, I wonder? Has my defense of him through a sometimes difficult season been in vain? Maybe. I guess it's possible. But I don't want to support him in vain, which, in retrospect, seems a selfish thing. His successes are our successes, though, so maybe there's something inherently selfish about the whole endeavor. But he's been good in the playoffs, and by good, I mean, well, great. To the tune of, "If we didn't have you, we'd be well and truly out by now" (which, honestly, I haven't heard, but as tunes go it must be a good one). Is his calmitude? That's probably the biggest difference between Robbie Findley and me, I think.
I mean, aside from everything else in which we differ. But right now, he's probably sleeping calmly in his bed. Saturday, he'll be out there, calm as can be. Meanwhile, I'll be on my third quadruple espresso in some ill-fated attempt to caffeinate the nerves away. (It never works, despite my constantly trying.) And so it is with the rest of us, too: I don't think a single person in the stands will be cool, calm and collected.
I guess that's the way it should be, but my word -- what I wouldn't give to be composed and confident right now.