If I am ever caught thinking back on a subtitled movie, depending on how compelling a film, I am often hit with a tinge of confusion. It isn't that I'm too simple to follow an ordinary plot line, or so slow at reading to follow the lazily scrolling text, but instead that I am continually faced with the question of whether I had even watched it in subtitles at all. If a foreign film strikes me, and I mean really strikes me, then sometimes my brain starts plugging in the written text into spoken English dialogue among my memories, so that I can never discern what I heard and what I read.
Now as common or uncommon as this might be, I couldn't help but subconsciously extrapolate it as the summary of my whole existence; possibly everyone's existence. How much of what you were told in your life did you hear? How much of it did you just read into? Does our brain just continually make vaguely translated subtitles to everything we encounter day-to-day? Do we know as much as we think we do... Our lives are foreign films that we translate and follow the best we can.
I know this isn't deep, I didn't even have much reason to share it other than to get it off my chest. That, and to make it clear that I like to make obscure metaphors to my existence.
A month and three days is all I have been back in the country, but I can honestly say that I only have felt like I've truly been home for less than half of that. It wasn't because of anything stereotypical. I wasn't depressed, I wasn't even all that sad to be done traveling. I had made it clear in the last of my African blogs that I was ready to leave that continent, at least for a time, and that wasn't reckless words in the heat of the moment or a joke. No, I simply just never felt like I came back. I was transitory, and always seemed to be expecting to push off soon, never really settling back. Funny enough then, the day when I finally came back, and really felt like my trip was over, was the day that Barcelona FC won the Champions League.
I wouldn't call myself a sports fan, that would be insulting to sports fans. I like some sports, I'm too particular. I am hockey nuts, this isn't news. I don't mind baseball, but I won't go crazy. A true "sports fan" loves the spirit of athletics, and will pretty much tune into any of the local teams to follow some action. That said, I do always need at least a sport to pay attention to, any team to follow along with, and nod my head, and talk shop around the water cooler about.
No surprise then, that in Africa, the sport that you only really could follow was football. That is soccer to you. Football was everywhere, the one and only of all sports talk in east Africa. Any awkward encounter with a local could be broken with a mention of Man United or Barcelona, and the donning of a jersey made you the object of praise and ridicule interchangeably for the day. In this way football quickly became a major thread in the story of our travels. So much so, that in the slower weeks and the waning days, our trip could be summarized as the trials and tribulations between games, as if everything was a build up to the next Champions league showdown, or inter league grudge match.
I told you that I like to make obscure metaphors to my existence, and here is what I was trying to get at. Let me make it less obscure: To me, my trip through Africa parallels strikingly to the rise and eventual winning of Barcelona in the UEFA Champions league, and the other countless pitch showdowns of our arbitrarily selected-to-win teams that littered the evenings throughout the trip.
The selection of Barcelona as our go to team was pretty easy. When I was in Argentina, knowing nothing of football, I picked up a national squad Messi jersey. At the time it didn't mean to much, but post world cup when I had had the chance to watch the little dynamo put on an especially convincing performance amidst a mismanaged and poor showing Argentine squad, I was sufficiently convinced of his excellence. How could you make Lionel Messi better? Simple, take him and add him to a squad that is almost half composed of the reigning world cup champion Spanish team and then let the magic happen.
Barcelona is the epitome of European football. Control, skill, speed and showmanship. We would watch games where Barcelona would have over 500 completed passes to the other sides 100, with a ball control percentage topping seventy. Don't you dare call me a bandwagon jumper either, I joined the ship when they were still playing Arsenal, and after game one that series was far from in the bag for the Catalonians. The guns took it 2-1 with a late game rally in the last ten.
The point is that we would ride the ups and downs of Barcelona's season in our own lives. It was partly pure coincidence and partly that energy you feed off from a team you grow to love. The success or failure of Barcelona in any game would shadow our attitudes or situation and vice versa. The good thing on my part is that Barcelona really was the juggernaut, that powerhouse team that seemed to glide through most of their season. Things were always more positive than not, and rarely did a gloomy spell last longer then it needed to.
It was with mixed feelings then that the winning of Barcelona over Man U snapped me back to reality, back to Canada. Don't get me wrong, I was ecstatic. The fact that it was Manchester United was the icing on the cake. The fact that it was none other than Messi, who got the game winner, and sealed the cup, was sublime.
Man United as a team is one that you will grow to hate if you ever cheer for any one else. Rival or not, they have a cast that is in my opinion regrettable and front manned by a fat-faced goon named Wayne Rooney. The worst part is that they are good. Maybe not to the man, but as a unit they are an extremely solid club. Nothing is worse than a hateable club that is actually good, because then you can't justify all your rage by calling the club crud.
The sadness was because it was an end. I had been there as they went through Arsenal, Shaktar, Real Madrid and finally Manchester United. I was unwavering in my fandom through everything, to a level that I can honestly say that I have never felt in the Stanley Cup finals with any of my teams. There was no fear of failure, just a confidence in the end result. That is an addicting feeling. As a result, after the victory over Manchester I felt like I had both somehow "won" at my trip to Africa vicariously through Barcelona, while simultaneously losing my biggest connection to the whole experience. The chord was severed, and instead of living in an unsettled limbo I was firmly back in Canada and reality. Mixed with the aimlessness of unemployment I was experiencing at that time, that was when I got into the real funk.
I like Canada, I like a lot of things about Canada, and yet already as I get back into the groove of life here I find myself unsettled. I get irritated by the small community mentalities, the lifestyle and the tripe that passes for news worthy material, while all the while falling right back into it. I had managed to push out of my mind for a time the work until death lifestyle that runs the Western world, the very same mindset that was the very reason I started this blog in the first place! No wonder I'm irritated by it! All the same the itch returns, the urge to go back out and see something different.
Fear not though, loyal blog readers, for I am on the rise now. I think I needed the decompression time that being an unemployed sack allowed me, and taking it wasn't the biggest mistake of my life. I also needed to take a break from this blog. Finishing the writing on Egypt felt like work. It was that hard. The frustration and emotions that I channeled into that post were a little too much, and it really killed my want to write for quite a while. Things are on the up and up starting now. For the summer I have moved back to Guelph and the streets of my University days, accompanied by all the nostalgia that that brings.
Guelph is a bit of an oddball in terms of weather. For the majority of the year, namely fall through spring, Guelph can be one of the cloudiest most depressing places to exist. Summer though, summer in Guelph is a whole other tune altogether. That overcast gloom is promptly swapped for an omnipresent green scape and sunshine. I'm a child of the sun. Guelph in the summer is like the ultimate bromance of me and nature.
My job for the summer is nothing to stimulating. I won't win a Nobel for any great achievements putting in my time, much like I won't get a Pulitzer for what I write here. It is, however, exactly what I needed this summer. It is active, I am on my feet. I've worked behind a desk for long enough in my life to know that it won't be where I end up. They are flexible, and I have the summer to interview and search for something more up my alley, while making money and staying busy. Fair deal.
Perhaps the best thing about Guelph is the spiderweb of sidewalks that starts outside my door. I have a history of trying to be a consistent runner in Guelph. Unfortunately it usually went to the tune of either I would start in the fall and run into snow, or start in the spring and find myself returning home for the summer, where motivation to run the small selection of routes was minimal at best. In the past weeks I have been consistent, and consequently feel better than I have in years.
My best ideas for writing come to me while I'm active. Just like the first part of this post came to me on one run, the rest of it came to me today while I was out running in my Messi jersey. A bunch of goons heckled out the window to the note of Barcelona sucks.
You can't bring me down. Forget Vancouver, forget hockey altogether for a minute. My team for this year, my real favourite team of this year won the whole thing. Straight up. Thanks Barca!
Enjoy your summer everybody! I should be writing a lot more frequently now!