I do not know. I am exhausted.
I’m confident that it’s very unusual to grab onto a nation making their World Cup debut and be filled with passion as if they were your own country. I’m technically 1/8th Scottish. My dad’s side of the family came from the Isle of Skye at one point, but that never meant anything to me. They weren’t a country I actively cheered for in the past. I couldn’t tell you the government head. I couldn’t tell you anything about the geography. The old firm Derby is one of the best in the world, and I think haggis is gross. I didn’’t have any other attachment, no other relation, and no reason to care.
Then, Rachel Corsie reminded me that I was Scottish, and that meant something.
High-level emotions are weird. You don’t understand it, and maybe you don’t get to understand it. You get thrown into the car and either latch on for dear life with no control as it drives itself, or you fall out, and the emotion dies. Watching the Women’s World Cup in the last couple of weeks for me have been the former. I had every intention of standing at the racetrack and watching multiple cars with differing stories, histories, and narratives speed by as I looked on with admiration, simply enjoying the moment. Some of the cars were bigger than others because they had more resources, more support, and more experience. Others were small, gritty, and hungry. I was supposed to be a spectator at this tournament, happy to witness history. Someone or something shoved me into one of those smaller cars, and I went along for the ride. I wasn’t in the driver’s seat, nor was I in the passenger, but I was a part of it. Something which never really mattered or meant anything to me suddenly did, and here I am reflecting on the past month which I spent looking for places to find Scottish porridge and whiskey locally, while concurrently grazing over hundreds of photos of different Scottish countrysides and teaching myself the 101’s of family genealogy.
To me, I was always a Dutch-American. Scottish history was purely a side dish, a non-factor in my identity.
But it’s something about the wonder’s of football.
It’s something about the excitement of the World Cup.
But that’s only part of the story.
It’s something about the underdog.
It’s something about inequality.
It’s something about a first time.
It’s something about qualifying comeback stories.
It’s something about grit.
It’s something about wanting to know more about those who came before me, but not having the incentive to.
I’ve been fortunate to have several very small interactions with Rachel and legendary commentator Derek Rae over the last few months, and those have made me realize that Scotland did not die when my grandmother did. Scotland sits down for interviews. Scotland reps the sticker on her water bottle of a fan podcast trying to grow the game. Scotland interacts with aspiring journalists and inspires them to be better. Scotland tumbles out of the World Cup conceding three goals in sixteen minutes.
A strong Scottish start. The joy and elation of a three-goal lead. Nervousness. More nervousness. Dread. Elation. Fury. Confusion. More Confusion. Time. Why isn’t there more time? 90 minutes. Heartbreak.
Scotland lost. And, at least, they should have had a couple more minutes to try for the win. But they didn’t. As heartbreaking as it is.
They’ll be back. We’ll be back. But before then, I have stories to dig up, distant relatives to find, pink kits to order, and strong alcohol to get accustomed to. Until then. Lang may yer lum reek.
One more thing. This story isn’t ultimately about me, even though it may feel like it. This story was never about me. I discovered something and am happy to be taken on this ride for the rest of my life, but this story is about Scotland. The Scottish Footballing Federation banned women from playing football up until 1974. Despite the odds, despite the resistance, despite the funding. The Scottish National Team encouraged and inspired, they trail-blazed, they proved it was okay to dream. Led by a former accountant, a little girl from Aberdeen, they made Scotland proud. They made Utah proud. They made the world proud. I hope they made themselves proud.