When I pulled this last minute trip together to Super Bowl central, I didn’t really know what to expect, in any way.
Reading about Phoenix, (not the forecast I guess), I saw that typically they experience 325 days of sun a year. That sounded perfect for this fogged in, cabin fevered girl from eastern Washington.
It’s rained two of the full four days we’ve been here, but the days we did get sun, we got sun, and a mild case of heat exhaustion; no joke. 70 degrees is a huge jump to take from 30 degrees in two days!
I’d never been to Phoenix, and the fact that my oldest son, Haden (11-3/4) had wanted to come here as long as he could remember, was a big pull.
I remember early in the season, knowing that my team, the Seattle Seahawks, would be here in January. There was also a chance, at least then, that the Arizona Cardinals, Haden’s team since he began watching football, would be here.
They both couldn’t be there. It was one or the other. But we could.
I’ve written about the struggle Haden has had this football season seeing his team peak, and then tumble and seeing my team start strong, then tank, and then slowly climb to the top of the football heap.
This trip has been more about mom and son than about football.
Yes, it’s been almost entirely about football. Minus the travel days (4 & 1/2) on the road together, (in our minivan, to give us some space), and my one choice of hiking for an afternoon, it’s been football.
And that’s the genius of sports. On the surface, it appears to be just a game. And with football, a brutal sixty minute contest that ends in victory and defeat. All centered around a leather bound Wilson.
It’s always more than meets the eye. Even my years as a mothered/fathered-in 12th fan, I knew I was part of something, something as big as my state, and my geographic area, the Pacific Northwest is best.
I became more of a fan of the game when I picked up where I left off watching the games in my own home. When our boys were born, one, then, two, then three; football became a family event again.
The seasons have come and gone, and Haden is now in sixth grade, on the cusp of becoming a teen. If there was ever a time for me to get Haden away from the noise and chaos of home, school, family and friends, to just spend some time together to clear the air between us, this was going to be it.
And like every good thing in my story, I had a feeling about this for a long time before we arrived.
I thought I had empathy for Haden being a Cardinals fan in a 12th Fan Land. I got a whole new appreciation for his angst the moment we arrived in Phoenix.
A typical exchange has looked something like this:
“Wait, you have Seahawks on, and he has Cardinals on. What’s up with that??” I pull out my polite social laugh to answer, “Ha, ha, ha, yes he’s loved the Cardinals since he was nine, and I’ve been a Seahawks fan my whole life.” “Well,” they will say, “I like you-” pointing to Haden with a smile/fistbump/high-five, “but not you.” glaring my way quickly.
Ok. Well, I get, Arizona is bitter. Just a heads up though, there are more and #twelves descending on your city by the day. I was just an early warning.
Have we had any life changing moments? Maybe. Haden has had experiences in Phoenix and in the NFL pre-Super Bowl festivities that he couldn’t have had in a hundred days at home.
You know, you can’t always see what you are in that will become in retrospect, the fabric of who you are, or a split in the road of your story.
I set into this trip with my eyes wide open looking for God to show up for Haden, and for me. And He has. I have stories and moments I can point to later, when we need a flesh and blood example that things do work together for good.
We also have several bags of NFL and Arizona booty.
Yesterday as we climbed the red rocks at Papago Park, Haden said that we should bring the rest of our family back here sometime. We’ve both fallen a bit for this city and for the Southwest.
In fact, I need a month road trip just to explore all of the spots we drove by on the way.
We leave today to head back North. Super Bowl tickets were never really an option, just a maybe. My husband and sister pulled together to cover my other two guys (9 & 6) schedules for a week, so it’s time to get back home.
My hope is, that as we drive the thousand plus miles home, tires pounding the endless concrete ribbon, this time the scenery flashing by outside our windows changing from desert, to forest, and back to snow in Spokane, that memories and conversations, encounters and adventures sink their way deep into Haden’s heart and soul and memory.
That’s what football and this trip is really about for me. To see played out in front of you, all of the adversity, obstacles, and tricks that a game, and life, will throw to you, and to see that with a switch of perspective, how a problem becomes just another puzzle with a solution.
And that you are never truly alone. That even when you think you are the only one wedged between a rock and an rockier place, there is something bigger than you, just waiting to lend you a hand.
(Shout out to the kind, twenty something Patriot fan guy that caught me on my seemingly short jump/fall on the last part of the climb yesterday; you rock! I ended up with just a sore ankle and a minor flesh wound.)
Haden’s going to miss this place, and traveling. He has that wanderlust in him. He comes by it honestly; I need to get out and go somewhere, anywhere several times a month, a week, a day.
I’m going to miss it too. The truth is, I needed this trip just as much as he did. It won’t be easy to go home. But a trip not long enough is sweet, a trip too long is not.
We leave different people than we came, the great gift of travel is that it never leaves you the same.
About that game on Sunday, I have alot to say, it’s just that I have a tween urging me to get going!!!
The Seahawks will win, but it will be more than that. This season has been a lesson in persevering and being true to who you are if nothing else.
It won’t be in a conventional way, it won’t be at all like last year, but they will triumph. They will make mistakes, fall behind, pull ahead, fight for all they are worth, and play until the very last second.
That’s just the genius of how they do it in Seattle. They aren’t just along for the ride, they are road tripping this journey for all its’ worth, with the guys they want to be on this road with, and while the destination is sweet, it’s the miles that make them who they are.