Wednesday, February 5, 2014

12th Man, Woman, and Babies

To start...ahem...go Seahawks. 

The Super Bowl is that special day when we eat what we want, watch TV for hours with friends, drink early in the day, and go to bed with a bottle of Tums. Everyone is a football fan, if only for a few hours.  A few bets are tossed back and forth, mainly money, but a few gentlemen's bets, some "slave-for-a-day" plans, and so on. 

This year was quite different for our "big small town" of Seattle.  We felt that our beloved Seahawks finally got what they deserved, were given credit for their abilities, and were shown love for exactly who they are--a team full of integrity.  Sure, most other cities felt the same about their teams, but this year was our year.  Everyone said we would lose (well, everyone except the porcupine on YouTube who picked us right away).  Whether it was by 3 points or a complete blowout, I'm not sure we were picked by anyone (except us, that is) to win.  Sorry, boys.


Super Bowl Sunday
As a family, we know the Seahawks are rather good.  They win, win again, and just keep on winning.  They'll lose a game every so often, just to keep it interesting, but then they go back to winning. But for some reason we didn't really think about the idea of them entering the Super Bowl when we decided to tighten our belts and cancel our cable.  Comcast was charging us up the wazoo each month and we couldn't stand it anymore.  What was once a $65 bill, turned to $75, then $85, and we were fed up.  We canceled our service, went with CenturyLink (it was a sign!) and decided to survive on Netflix and Hulu.  We may have counted our chickens a little too soon.

Come Super Bowl Sunday we had very little in the way of plans.  Joey had to work,so I took the kids to church and we did our best to reverently pray for a Seahawks win.  There were a few rowdy greeters dressed head-to-foot in Broncos gear, but I'm guessing they're a little quieter these days.  Charlotte spent her first Sunday in Sunday school and lasted the whole time without me getting paged.  She told me they learned about "Bad people throwing rocks.  Then Jesus came and Santa Claus, too."  I'm guessing there were some bearded characters in the story... 

Anyhoo, after church we headed home and I put the kids down for a nap.  We had no plans, no high-calorie snacks, and I was just thankful for the next two hours to put my feet up a little.  I popped on some Real Housewives while the rest of the world flipped on the game, and then I began to Google the Seahawks game.  Refresh, refresh, refresh.  To be honest, I was incredibly interested in watching, but really didn't have any way without cable.  Refresh, refresh, refresh.  This will suffice, I thought.  Nope.  12 seconds in we had already scored.  Then came more, and more, and more.  I have to see this! Wouldn’t you know that my kids kept on sleeping!

I finally heard Charlotte bumping around and I ran upstairs with two pairs of little shoes, their coats, and flew downstairs with both kids, half asleep. We jumped in the car and headed straight for Safeway.  What's a better place to be?  They have a big flat screen TV with soft chairs, tables, a fireplace, and we're SURROUNDED by food!  We got there just as halftime began and I settled the kids down with some applesauce and a corndog for Charlotte.

And there we stayed for the entirety of that incredible game.  We bumped shoulders with people we had never met before--some homeless, some war vets, some families, and some of Safeway's employees--today we were all friends.  Joey met up with us after work (he works at another Safeway up in Woodinville), and we were all able to watch the last quarter as a family, surrounded by tasty junk food, loud cheering, and happy babies. 

We drove home to the cheers and fireworks of our neighborhood.  I don't know a single person who drove by or was standing on the sidewalk, but we all waved, honked, laughed, and metaphorically raised our glasses.  It's been a long time since we lived in a small town, but Super Bowl Sunday felt much like "home."

Fast Forward

Victory Parade
My mom once told me that if history is being made, for better or for worse, do your best to be a part of it.  At the time it was the WTO rally, but today it was the victory homecoming parade for our champion Seahawks.  We made a plan to ride the 41 bus down to Westlake Center, which we knew would be a cold morning. The temps dipped into the low 20s with a much lower wind chill shooting down 4th Avenue.  We bundled the kids up in pajamas, moccasins, fleece pants, sweatshirts, parkas, mittens, hats, blankets, until they were layered with in an inch of their lives.  We left the house at 9:45am with the stroller, baby backpack, diaper bag, lunches, and bus money, and walked out to the bus stop.  It was packed.  Normally our stop is basically abandoned, being one stop before the popular Hubbard Homestead Park stop.  Not today.  We stood among about 30 other passengers, waiting and waiting.  Finally the 41 popped over the hill; as it drew nearer we could see it was completely full.  It didn't even stop.  We waited again.  Then came another 41.  Packed again.  There would be no bus ride today.  Sorry, Charlotte.

We grabbed the kids and headed back to the house.  Joey figured driving would be our best shot, so we packed everything in the car and headed downtown.  He took Roosevelt all the way down to Eastlake, avoiding the traffic, so we thought we had it made.  Um, no.  Seattle all at once looked like an anthill.  Crowds poured toward the center of town.  We still managed to get around for a while via the smaller streets, but as we crept towards Westlake Center, it became clear that parking wouldn't be easy.  Life stopped as we inched under the Monorail and the crowds enveloped our car.  I began to feel claustrophobic, like I was in some sort of car wash.  There were thousands and thousands of people filling the streets all around us.  Bicycles squeezed past the motionless vehicles, stuck bumper-to-bumper.  I could hear honking, I could hear the music as the parade began, and all of a sudden I wasn't sure how much I wanted to be there.  Maybe I'm not a fan after all, I thought.  No, that wasn't it.  I'm certainly a fan, but this was beyond pushing it as far as my comfort zone is concerned. 

Joey was determined to keep trying.  We went up and down every street, in alleys, backed up, inched forward, and sat in the jam watching the 12th Man flag fly through the sky back and forth, back and forth.  On a positive note, we had food, we were warm, and it was sort of nice just to have to sit for a while and be comfortable.  And the kids were golden.  Max slept through everything and Charlotte read her books and sang along with the radio.  She told me later she didn't like all the people, and the parade music "make worried me."  But at the time, she said nothing and kept herself happy and busy.

At some point things began to look grim.  Not sure if it was because it was now 12 o'clock (an hour after the parade began), or because we were now in "Little Saigon," but it looked as though we had lost this battle.  On the side of adventure, however, we had seen every inch of downtown Seattle from our home in Northgate (okay, not exactly downtown) to the International District, to the Rainier District, and beyond.  We had driven in and out of every parking garage, hospital, apartment complex, etc., that we could find, and came to the conclusion that there is just not enough parking in downtown Seattle for 750,000 people.  Who knew? 

We scooted back to the freeway, which was nice and open, and took the kids up to Whole Foods for a quiet, easy lunch.  There were no crowds, driving was a breeze, and everyone was home by naptime.  To be honest, I think I preferred this.

In Conclusion
You may think we were nuts for trying to get to the parade today.  And maybe you're right.  I was certainly naïve if nothing else.  I figured that because it was a weekday and most people were at work, that the parade wouldn't be that crowded.  Yep, I know--stupid.  But it was fun anyway.  We didn't get to see the parade, but we saw nearly a million fans walking by.  There was a hum of excitement and sheer joy in the air, and nobody seemed to mind the cold weather.  Besides, I don’t think anyone around here minds the cold when the sun is out.  And it was gorgeous today.  So I'm glad we went.  I'm glad we drove around, burned gas, got stuck, backed out of driveways, and skidded in and out of traffic.  We spent that time together as a family--no one was at work, no one was sick, no one was sleeping, no one was crying--we had all that time to just talk about whatever was on our mind (mainly the Seahawks).

So that is our 12th Man experience.  Maybe we live that part of our life on the sidelines, but we'll always take the bull by the horns and make the best with what we have.  

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