I could barely concentrate on work today.
I was jittery and nervous, I had a fluttery stomach almost as bad as before a match in rec league soccer when I played 'keeper. By four p.m. I was utterly useless and gave up, spending the last hour at "work" surfing the soccer websites to read up on my Timbers' second leg match against the Seattle Sounders for a place in the Western Conference finals.
I haven't written much about the Timbers this season, but it's not that I haven't been caught up in my sport and my team. It's been a hell of a ride, too. The team that looked a complete shambles last season has reassembled itself under our new coach Caleb Porter and finished top of the table in the MLS West, only to face our old ancient enemy, Seattle, in the semis.
So I trudged down the hill from the dark side street where I left Stinky the Honda with my rainsuit in hand and my Army scarf around my shoulders. The night was cold and blustery and the rain came down in gusts, slicking the drifts of fallen leaves and shattering the streetlight into multicolored arcs. The fluttering in my gut only got worse as I approached the old Civic Stadium and heard the sound of the traveling Sounders supporters roaring out their fish-songs of love and hate for their rivals.
I won't tell you more; you don't really care, and if you did you'd have been there, singing amid the crowd at the North End, or at the edge of your couch at home swearing and bouncing as the game swayed to and fro. But sufice to say that in the end the Timbers ran out the winners, 3-2 on the night and 5-3 on aggregate. Their reward, if you want to call it that, is to face our hoodoo team, Real Salt Lake, in the Western finals.
But sufficient to that day is the Rimando thereof. Tonight is a night of pure joy, a redemption of the suffering of last season and a balm for my own conviction that as a Portlander we are doomed to suffer depthless disappointment, that our heroes will always find the kryptonite, that we will raise our hopes only to end with our heads in our hands despairing.
But not tonight. No. Not tonight.
Tonight is for the cold rain and the smoky taste of the whiskey and the pure, vaulting joy of lifting my voice to sing for triumph. Tonight is for victory, and the hopes of tomorrow. Because...
"...there's a party in Portland,"
"No one's sleeping tonight!"