Thursday, July 1, 2010

On Mornings

You sit in smoke residue and drink strong tea, or warm beer, and you are happy. You love the shuffling in, the shared sense of shame and mischief and mutual addiction: no one has ever wandered into a darkened pub in a snowstorm at 8am on a Sunday by accident. Men, young and old, shake snow off jackets, the night before still written on their faces, and in their hair. You attempt to remember a time when you were content to spend Sunday mornings pressed up against and screaming with, sometimes at, only one dirty, hungover boy. Now anything less than fifty is a disappointment. But the sleepy smell of contented aggression, of soap and the scorned possibilities of soap, is the same.
Every once in a while there’s a girlfriend along, half-awake and texting. You’re careful not to judge them: after all, you started as a girlfriend enjoying the simple idea of the game, the feeling of the pub. But then you didn’t want to be a girlfriend anymore, and then you weren’t, and you realized you found neither the feeling nor the idea simple at all. So you kept coming. Anyway, usually there aren’t girlfriends or any girls at all that early in the morning. There is only you.

You can sense that your presence disrupts a certain covenent, causes a self-awareness in the room that would be absent otherwise. This is the last thing you want to do: you’ve come for the room the way it would be without you. Even in your silence you work to explain that you have no intention of disrupting this covenent, and to show through a slow series of impercetible motions that you understand how to be in this space. 
You do not chat while the game is on. You do not text while the game is on. You do not look at your phone except to check other scores at the break. Through careful study, mental diagramming and terrible mistakes, whole halves spent cramped, limbs going lifeless, you’ve learned where to stand when the pub is packed for a big game. Often you are offered a seat which you refuse because you know it’s not a seat: it’s a test. If you are sitting and there's an empty seat next to you, no one ever sits down until the break. Assuming you are waiting for someone. Someone who will be explaining the game to you.
You are neither open or closed. No, not true: you learn how to project that you are open to the room and closed to anyone in particular. Occasionally you participate in a shared grumble, but you never go on too long. You do not need to prove to them how much you know or care. Just being there does that. 
You are known to be a talker and it’s a nice change for you, this quiet. At least that’s what you tell yourself instead of addressing why you are more at peace in a bar, silently surrounded by a hundred men, than actually holding a conversation with any of them. Or your actual friends. You do, after all, have friends. You could bring one. But you don’t want to have to consider another person. For the first time you can remember, you’d just like to exist. Because you've realized that this sealed space of invisible proving where you are at home and at the same time entirely alien, belonging and unbelonging, is the most comfortable place you’ve ever been. 
Most mornings blend into each other in a string of familar equations (mesmerizing+dull, thrilling+brutal) solved ninety minutes at a time. Your team often causes you actual physical pain, as your team is known to do. After long internal debate you occasionally decide to have a beer and then spend the rest of the day hazy and headached and wishing you hadn’t. Often you feel like you haven’t been watching well enough, that you’ve been somehow outside the game and you can’t find the story, but then you feel a goal coming and it does. Secretly you know you are part of that goal: your attention was the engine that made it exist. 
And then on some mornings without threat or warning, the game catches fire and you find yourself bound together with every person in the room, caught in one shared intake of breath. You know it’s the early hour that allows this to happen, that in the lazy, sleepy agreement of the morning everyone’s forgotten to fortify with coffee and sarcasm, even you, and through plan or accident you’re open to giving over to something outside yourself. You don't find this strange. You find it beautiful; tender even. 
And you know that as soon as you stumble into the daylight, scent of lysol and body still heavy in your lungs, searching fast for your sunglasses, you’ll see that that you have already lived through several lifetimes, complete cycles of fear and joy and pain at 10 in the morning, and when you walk down the street you’ll feel light and wise, as though more than anyone you pass you are the one that understands the morning. But you sure as fuck would never admit that to any of the boys in the pub. You just nod, and pay your tab, and leave. 


  1. I just wanted to say that was beautifully written; I am glad that I have found this place.

  2. I am glad you found this place as well, because it introduced me to your blog- absolutely fascinating. I hope to be posting a lot more pieces here next week- thanks so much for your kind comment it will force me to get my act together...