Friday, June 23, 2006

Round One...Fight!

Southwest Germany
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Salzburg, Austria

Due to a combination of bad luck and general lack of skill, the United States is out of the 2006 World Cup. An embarrassing 3-0 defeat to the Czechs and a surprising and litigous 1-1 tie with Italy were rounded out by an appropriately dispiriting 2-1 loss to an undeserving Ghanese squad. Our next match was Italy vs. Australia last Monday. I was shouting "Go Italia!", but the bulk of my fandom is reserved for my adoptive home of England. Hopefully Davey B and the boys can kick it a tad more ballistic than our domestically produced ballers. I see the holy trinity of English soccer - pints, St. George's crosses, and reserved optimism - playing a significant role in my immediate future.

In an effort to cut costs, we booked hotels outside of large cities or cities that were hosting World Cup matches. This strategy worked very well. Because we had a car, we could use our HQ as a quiet base for aggressive forays in any direction and have a refuge from all the hoopla. Hell, it seems, is other tourists. We first set up shop in the Borbeck area of Essen. From there we cruised down to the lovely little river city of Mainz. Our home then moved to Amberg and then (very briefly) to Fresing, a town notable for us only because of its proximity to Munich's airport. In between all that we worked in road trips to Koln (Cologne), Amsterdam, and Salzburg and a very pleasant cruise along the castle-studded bit of the Rhine.

Time spent looking at cathedrals and watching football in beer gardens fades quickly. The lasting memories of the last two weeks will be of hanging out with my family. I like "going home" as much as the next guy, but I prefer to see my immediate kin outside of the context of my youth. In Charleston, it is very easy to slip back into the patterns of childhood and adolescence. It is far better to relate to my parents and siblings as other adults rather than to behave like a 29-year-old teenager. Families can lumber along forever happily laughing at the same twenty stories from twenty years ago or they can do new things together and have a fresh supply of the inside jokes and shared experiences that distinguish voluntary friends from incidental relations.


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