Yesterday Ana and I said yes to an invitation to go watch the Women’s World Cup Soccer Final with one of our friends who had collected an interesting group of people around her. She told us that we would be meeting up between 2:30pm and 3pm for the 5pm match at a brewery in another neighborhood just a quick UBahn ride away. Even though we grumbled a little bit about the early meet up time we got all of our stuff together and headed out.
We got to the brewery just a little after 3pm and the crowd was already starting to assemble. Sam sat at her found table and started to accumulate stools and our people for the day. Sam is from Austin and around her was another Sam from Britain, Josh from the US, another guy that I can’t remember his name…also a brit and now us, me fresh back from the west coast and Ana. We got our beer and started to enjoy the scene. We realized what an interesting day it would be because we were surrounded by English speakers (including the obviously native English speaking crew working at the bar) with German food menus (wurst and German beer playing prominently) in a brewery with a Slavic name. A few others join us…another US person with California ties, another US person with southern loudly proclaimed ties and one other. At this point the crowd was growing and growing. A girl from Chicago claimed a spot behind us for her friends and people started streaming in.
We celebrated the nearing of the game with food and cheers, settling into our well earned stools. The game began and all of a sudden cheers with US flags and bright orange signified we were all into this particular spectacle on the big screen.
Now, if you know me, I am not a sporty spice BUT as my dear friend Geoff used to say, “Ahhhh the pageantry.” I love the pageantry. I love the crowd, the food, the cheers. I love the excitement and the collective gasp. I love when people gather to get together for the underdog or the favorite queen of soccer (yes Megan Rapinoe has our collective hearts). I especially love in women’s soccer when the pride flags come out and lesbians are given a bit of the spotlight.
And for a little moment, I loved yesterday that here I was in Berlin, in the midst of transitioning back to the strange land that I could cheer for my homeland with others who knew my accent and my colloquialisms and yet could still understand when we turn to say something in German and we talked about our arrival here. It is a unique group in this space. The group of the expat who is still trying to figure out what that means but in a game between the US and the Netherlands we are still rooting for our team. Sometimes this kind of thing may even irritate me but in this context it felt pretty ok.
When the game ended and we had cheered loudly, after we cheersed our final beer and talked about this crew coming together, and even after we had tired of talking to people we didn’t really know at all but had bonded with for a few hours, Ana and I headed home, glad we came to this place for this moment, in the crowd.