A long time ago.... in a city not so far away... there lived a 16 1/2 year old girl (ok... she lived in the suburbs, but that's unimportant). Despite a lot of family adversity a few years earlier, she was a happy teenager whose life spread out in front of her. She had 2 good knees and good grades in school and a father who loved her very much. He loved her so much that he turned her into a rabid Eagles fan (and football in general) and who LOVED baseball; more the Yankees than the Phillies, but we lived here so we cheered for the Phillies as our National League team. A long time ago, women were not brought up as sports fan, but this girl's father had two daughters and no sons so it was up to him to break the mold (as a single father in the 1970s) and teach his girls all about the rules and the players; what a first down meant and why a pitcher would walk the bases loaded with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning. On one glorious October day in 1980, Tug McGraw (rest his soul) threw a pitch and the Phillies won the World Series. Then in January of 1981, her beloved Eagles beat DALLAS to get into the Super Bowl. The Eagles lost, but the girl was happy they had gotten there at all; especially against "America's Team" (SNORT!!!!!).
The years went by. In October of 1981, the girl's left knee exploded from within. The girl found out that she couldn't go to the college she had always planned to attend, but her father couldn't afford. The girl had a not-so-fabulous first marriage but one which produced two amazing children. The girl met and married the most wonderful man in the world in October of 1988 and baby #3 followed in mid-September of 1989. The girl went to law school and did pretty well. In 1993, the girl and her prince watched almost every Phillies game, believed their team could win and watched Joe Carter of the Toronto Blue Jays smash that dream.
Then the girl's father started getting sicker and sicker, but the girl and the Prince had baby #4 in February of 2001 and that seemed to perk up the girl's father some. The Eagles started winning -- a lot -- the girl, her father, her sister and her prince were all very happy. Baby #4 could sing the Eagles fight song before his 2nd birthday. On a cold Christmas Eve in 2003, the girl's father succumbed to his illness and the girl was sad; so sad it took her almost a year to cry over her loss. In January of 2004, Donovan McNabb threw the pass of his career -- 4th and 26 against the Green Bay Packers -- the girl was elated but understood Brett Farve's sadness at losing HIS dad the same week she lost her father. Of course, this IS Philadelphia so the Eagles blew it the following week against Carolina in the NFC Championship game and the girl turned 40 two weeks later... still no Philadelphia championship.
There was a brief hint the next year. The girl tried SO hard to maintain her Philadelphia Pessimism when the Eagles made the Super Bowl in January of 2005. She even alowed herself to believe the Eagles might WIN the Super Bowl. But then McNabb choked (no surprise to the girl by the way) and the Dream sputtered again. By now, her older kids were starting to understand what it means to be Philly Fans -- that also made the girl sad.
And then there was 2007... the Phillies won the NL East and the girl allowed herself, just for a moment, to believe again that it COULD happen. The Colorado Rockies yanked that particular rug away quickly. Philadelphia fans were cheering for a horse named Smarty Jones and for the Philadelphia Soul (GO SOUL!!) because to be denied a championship for a quarter century was unbearable. Even the dumb horse lost. The Soul won, but the victory was very hollow. The girl's right knee was injured in the Summer of 2008 and is still injured three months later. She works so hard. She takes care of her family (with MUCH teamwork with the Prince). There is still just a little something missing though...
Or is there? The Phillies are the 2008 NL East champs. The Phillies are the National League Champs. The Phillies are now up 3 games to 1 on the Tampa Bay Rays (who???). The girl has been viciously tamping down ANY hope for days, weeks and years and finally, at 6 a.m. this morning, gave in to the DREAM. The girl is exhausted from work, political obligations, the Prince's grad classes leaving her solo, bad knees, a sore tooth and simply no time to just sit and knit. BUT for the first time in decades on a Monday morning (I despise Mondays), the Girl is allowing herself to believe. She believes that Rollins, Utley, Howard and Cole Hamels can get it done. The rest of the country may not be watching, but here in Philly, there is an exhileration in the air -- you can breathe it, you can smell it, we ALL know it (even those of us over 40 who are trying SO hard not to be disappointed again).
For the first time since that glorious Fall day, twenty-EIGHT years ago, I believe. For the first time in so long, I am again that girl with two good knees, good grades and her life spread out in front of her like a banquet for her to pick and choose from as she sees fit since that 16 year old girl never gained weight. It's 1980 all over again and I can taste it. The Eagles won yesterday, Penn State won Saturday night AT Ohio State. Even the Girl's Temple Owls won their football game last week. The girl's oldest son was on Homecoming Court this past weekend for his college (he didn't win, but we went up in the pouring rain anyway).
The girl may be middle-aged and creaky in the morning, but there is still that core of pure joy underneath all of the cynicism that Life has added to her existence.
The core is waiting to explode.... the joy is bubbling beneath the surface of my fingertips like a persistent tingle that will blow out of my body tonight, or Wednesday or Thursday night. This morning, I stopped fighting the bubbles.... I know I shouldn't because, as a Philadelphia sports fan I know better. It's there nevertheless. It's palpable. I can taste it and most importantly I know that YA GOTTA BELIEVE!!!!!
LET'S GO PHIL-LIES!!!!!!!!!!