It’s almost time. Every four years, the excitement descends upon us like a storm with a rainbow of mysterious colors lost somewhere in its clouds. A whistle is blown, and it all begins: the passionate dance around a black and white ball that evokes every emotion and every form of patriotism as players claw for the most prized title in sports around the world: the World Cup.
I wish I could say Ecuador was in the World Cup. Or that games would start conveniently after work, with stacks of extra large Pilsners awaiting us at the bar around the corner. But, as it turns out, games begin at 630am here in Quito. This means World Cup viewing will be… different from how I expected, different from the fantasy (alas, most things are). It will revolve around breakfast, coffee, checking emails and showering for work. On occasion, I will meet friends with my Lionel Messi jersey at sunrise. Game viewing will most likely (ya never know…) be sober, with tropical fruit juice and frosted mini wheats instead of pub food and pints.
Where I was last World Cup and where I am now, in so many different ways, is also different. But the excitement, the anticipation, the fun of it all remains the same. My setting has changed. The people with whom I will be watching the games has changed. The outcome will surely be different (you will be missed, Zidane). But every four years, I know I can count on the World Cup to bring people together, to make Argentines cry (whether they be tears of joy or tears of heartbreak, the world awaits…), and to celebrate one of the greatest sports ever.
I cannot help but cheer for the US in the only world championship that makes us feel small. But my heart is with Argentina, a team that reminds me of my ex boyfriends: on the one hand, they have all the potential in the world to make you blissfully happy, but they usually end up just breaking your heart, again. [Oops. Feelings.] That said, I confess: I’m a hopeless romantic. No matter how many times Argentina (or I?) gets knocked out or knocked down, I know they will get back up. I believe in this team. I believe anything is possible in this World Cup. You never know, before something this big, if it’s going to be your heart that gets broken or the other guy’s, but the most important thing is that you show up on game day with every intention of making the dream come true, and when that whistle is blown… you play your heart out.
Game on, world. Game on.