I said goodbye with great fanfare in June. My year of travelling to London to watch Arsenal at the Emirates was over; so, too, was my blog.
I had a busy summer. My daughter graduated from high school and we celebrated with a big party in the back yard. I spent massive amounts of time weeding my garden in The Shoes. I made gallons of strawberry soup and gazpacho, and made my sister and niece cut up thousands of berries for fruit salad. In my zeal to ensure that no one would go hungry I ended up freezing 8 large pizzas after the party was over. We still have a few bags left.
We poured new concrete in the front walk that was immortalized in my pictures last June and even had the front steps rebuilt. I nearly finished removing the wallpaper in my upstairs hallway after a break of, oh, about nine years. I even picked out paint chips for those walls and put samples up to confirm that the color was right. That was the end of that, naturally. But someday….someday.
Work got extremely busy and I started juggling three large projects. We managed a week-long vacation in Vancouver. Mom visited twice. We organized and worked toward sending my daughter off to College and my son off to his second year of high school.
I had informed the person who made the Arsenal tickets available last year, multiple times during the year, that we wouldn’t be able to take the tickets again. Still, several times, they crossed my path, both casually and seriously, and each time I thought hard about taking them again, discussing it with my husband: Should we?
Each time, we concluded there was really no way, and let them pass by. The time they paraded past on Facebook and there was quick interest from others nearly broke my heart. It was like the cute boyfriend you’ve halfheartedly rejected getting quickly and publicly picked up by a beautiful and wonderful woman.
On the morning of June 24, as I dragged myself from bed to the bath, my husband accosted me as if he had been waiting for hours for me to wake up. “The British voted for Brexit and the pound is collapsing,” he informed me breathlessly. “We should take the Arsenal tickets.”
I shook my head and went into the bathroom. How often were we going to revisit this scenario?
My husband used to walk our kids to school every day, but when they got older and were bussed he started walking me to the train. That morning on our walk to the train, he tried to convince me of the wisdom of taking the tickets. The pound was going to be low relative to the dollar, travel would be cheaper. On the other side of the equation, I argued logistics, time, people taking care of our son as we flitted about. Believe me, this is no argument that I wanted to make—I WANT THE TICKETS—but sometimes you have to be logical, reasonable.
My husband was clearly becoming frustrated with me. I gave in. I said I would check with Andy to see if the tickets were still available.
I got on the train and decided to approach this in exactly one way: balls to the wall (so to speak). There would be no revisiting this decision. I would tempt fate and then wrestle it to the ground. If the tickets were available we would take them. If they were not available, we’d go off into the sunset.
I sent the following email to Andy, and I forwarded it to my husband:
Hours went by. Then I got Andy’s response: “Really?”
Turns out that one of the other people who shared tickets last year couldn’t do it this year. (The other woman is feeling charitable and your boyfriend is back!)
We decided on a smaller share this year and will go to London fewer times. But we will go.
It took us longer to settle the specific matches we’ll go to this season, with many failed attempts at a conference call to complete a draft, and thus longer to settle things financially, but settled we now are.
The first match we’ll attend is next weekend.
Our airfare for the first trip was insanely cheap. When I clicked on hotels.com to book the hotel we’ll stay in I felt a zing of adrenaline rush through my body, followed by a massive high.
It was dwindling a bit a few days later when I received a message from the Arsenal website: Tickets have been transferred; please log on to accept them. I stepped through the motions and waited patiently for my email containing pdfs of the tickets.
Zing! High again.
I don’t see a way to continue blogging as I did last year; I’m just working too much to find time. But maybe I’ll be able to do a little.
It feels preposterous to be going back to the Emirates again this year. It also feels good.
Very, very good.