Rome, Roma, and the two men

In Footy Culture, Front Page by Aaron WestLeave a Comment

Share:Share on Facebook0Tweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+0Share on Tumblr0Share on LinkedIn0Share on Reddit0Email this to someone

In front of a window in a hotel room overlooking the city stands a man, his hands folded behind his back, with the early morning sun just beginning to rise. It paints the room in a faint white glow only accentuated by the reflection of the old television. He looks out and remembers the men who have walked before him, who have set records – many of which he has broken, and many of which he has yet to. Some, he never will. He thinks of the fans who come from around the world to watch him. Those who save for a year, or two, or more, to afford one trip to the place he calls home and has called home for the past twenty years. They come for the team but also for him and he knows this. He takes a seat on the bathtub in the bathroom, with the sun higher on  the sky now and bathing the room in its natural colors – colors like the yellow and red in the flag, like the Mayfair  of different pigments of the people in the crowds, like the green of the grass and the blue of the sky.
Miles away stands another man on a road in one of the world’s great cities. His hair, once jet black, has been peppered by the seasons of time. He had a bowl of cereal for breakfast that morning as his wife spoke to him but he was distracted, nervously palming the red-and-yellow scarf in his lap. Though he’s heading to a sporting event, he shows no joy on his face. For him, this is more than entertainment. The cathedrals around him are only fitting; this country is a religious one and sometimes the mystic and the sporting intertwine.
The old man is suddenly startled as a cascade of people walk by him, fish in a school heading down the same current. All roads lead to this city and all these people are taking the same one to the same place. The man in the hotel knows this as he changes into his three piece suit and walks out the door with his bags. Once his bus arrives just beyond the people, he walks off, looking equally somber. His upper lip brushes against the facial hair just below his bottom as his eyes tighten on a focal point beyond that of what’s in front of him. He remembers his goals, the spectacular volleys and the cheeky penalties. He remembers his hundreds of appearances in the same colors, week in and week out, in a place often accused of somehow being below him. He would be great, it’s often said, if only he left for another pitch, at another place, in another country. The old man and the others know this: the sacrifices he’s made to stay where he is. He, like them, is inexplicably drawn to this place, to this city, to this country. He gives it meaning and it gives meaning to him; two decades later, the two are inseparable. Him staying has given them definition, and them to him adoration and devotion.
And soon they’re in the very same place, a stadium in dire need of renovation, with a track surrounding the pitch that’s at least twenty years outdated, in a city once viewed as the capital of the world, in a country now viewed as slow and ineffective. As the player walks out with child in hand and armband in place, the elder looks down upon him from a seat high in the stands, heart filling with pride and scarf raised into the air. The former does not quite know that the latter exists, at least not as an individual, but as part of a group that bears the weight of the expectations upon him; thousands and thousands of eyes watching his every move and filling with tears for his every failure, ears that hear his every word, mouths that chant for him and scream his name, hearts that have come to know and love him. As the player walks onto the pitch, everyone in the stadium chants his name over and over. Though separated by time and space, fortune and luck, the two men have one thing in common. They don’t consider the past as being enough. The joys and successes, heartbreaks and disappointments have not kept them from coming here again tonight. There’s a crisp chill in the air, an electricity in the seats, sprung forth from looking forward to the future – a future yet undetermined, one that could push both to new glories.
It may or may not happen, but they’re both hungry for more.

About the Author

Aaron West

Share:Share on Facebook0Tweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+0Share on Tumblr0Share on LinkedIn0Share on Reddit0Email this to someone