Just as well I brought the hat home last Friday.
It had been in my old room, at my parents house. Just as I have been purging and sorting through my own stuff, so too have my parents been trying to purge – themselves of my stuff. LOL.
I always said I would tend to the big pile of childhood and teenage accumulation and mementos that I had left at their place when I first moved out. That promise turned into a faraway and not very concrete date, and so my parents took it upon themselves to take everything out of hiding and line it up accessible and for me to see in my old room.
Every time I am there, I go through a little more. I came across some carnival hats that baby girl was enamoured with… I thought ‘fine.’ There’s many things I am bringing home, simply because I am not sure of what to do with it, but I feel that I should really be throwing it away.
The hat, is not the case.
Because the hat, is from the homeland. It holds my parents roots, and is an emblem of where I hail from.
The discovery of the hat was so timely, because I was able to hold it near and dear to me, during the viewing of the Soccer, very very late (or very very early, whichever way you roll) last night/this morning.
Croatia has progressed into the second round of finals in the FIFA world cup. I always said if they did get this far, then I would stay up/get up early, and watch. I knew baby girl having school holidays would make it easier – no early start and subsequent running around after a 3-hour sleep due to Soccer match… so very very early this morning, that’s what I did.
I had a preorganised massive blanket on the couch to wrap myself in. Little did I know it was the coldest night of the year, but I was all tucked up and cosy, the only light coming from the guys on the green field and the soft glow of our hallway.
In those 2 and a half hours, I learnt a bit. I didn’t think I would. I picked up strategies and things about the game which I had never noticed before. I got emotional, my head lifting from the pillow in anticipation when a goal was near; I whispered “damn!” at missed opportunities; and I also nearly fell asleep several times.
I am more sleep ambassador than a soccer one.
But it was the memories and the times I had spent watching the World Cup before, that led me to this night. I remember my Dad staying up late, and me sitting with him, trying to work out the game. Asking him questions. Things about the goalie, and how hard his job was. All of this came flooding back to me, the time I spent with my Dad watching this sport, excited about the rare late nights, and the bonding that I didn’t realise I was partaking in, ’til just last night.
And there was more. I remembered World Cup soccer parties at my sister’s place. The excitement of driving across town at midnight to watch the tournament take place. I remember sleeping in my bed at 3am, and the phone ring because Croatia had just progressed into another round, and my sister across town was calling to talk to my Dad, who was watching on our side of town.
“Sorry SmikG,” she said. “I’m calling for Dad.”
So casual, yet so novel. It was fascinating, how this event turned all our lives upside down.
And then when Croatia did make 3rd place in that same year, the happiness the people experienced and devoted themselves to, awoke something in me.
A deep curiosity for World Cup Soccer. Now, it was going to become a ritual.
Years later when Australia made the World Cup, remarkably it was Croatia they faced in one-play off. Although I couldn’t really lose in this scenario – ‘homeland’ team, playing ‘home’ team – I nonetheless went for the regional underdog, while Hubbie, then BF, was happily cheering for the land down under.
Our rules were: take a shot when your team makes goal. And run around the house with the national flag wrapped around you.
We did it.
Meanwhile on the other side of the world, my parents were in Croatia, their native home, watching the very same game. They would wince when Australia faltered, silently cheering and smiling with glee when they moved ahead, noticed by my uncle who said to them
“Why, you’re cheering for Australia, not Croatia!”
That’s because Australia was their real home now.
Or maybe it had to do with going for the underdog in their current location, just as I was doing, cheering for Croatia to win as I sat in my Australian house.
I never remember who won. I don’t even care. All I remember are the memories.
I am not a soccer devotee. I will not claim I know all the players’ names. I will not pretend to watch soccer at any other time for the next 4 years after this event.
But I am a fan of where I come from. And as long as Croatia will feature in this 4-yearly event, so too will I haul my ass out of bed in freezing cold Winter temperatures, and remember, the memories from before.
For those keeping score… my ass-hauling last night DID pay off. Croatia won. In an epic extra-time plus penalty shoot-out setting. They won on the last kick!
Incredible. And if all I remember from this World Cup is…
reminiscing on the past
cuddled up on the couch
Hubbie joining me post 6am before heading off to work
and then cheering happily because they had won (and I was going back to bed!)
then that would be enough.