My first mistake was assuming that there wouldn’t be many people there on a Sunday morning. Of course, things are different on a Sunday when there’s a big game. The grocery store was busy. Usually I don’t pay much attention to sports but I do know that the Super Bowl is 3 weeks from now so today’s game was a big one. I started counting Chargers shirts and jerseys in the parking lot. There were dozens. I saw them in the produce department, on check-out clerks and in the snack aisle, where one lady was loading her cart with bags of chips the size of bed pillows, for a super-sized football party, no doubt.
My second mistake was assuming that I could hold and breastfeed my newborn with one hand while pushing the shopping cart with the other. It was do-able for a long time, but the cart finally became heavy and harder to steer in the last two aisles, where I bought 2 gallons of milk and 3 liters of diet soda. No, I told the clerk, I didn’t need help out. Eleven bags of groceries plus the milk, but I’m a first-born, determined to do things myself.
On the drive home a vintage car bounced happily ahead of me, the huge thunderbolt flag above it doing the hula in the breeze. Another car had small flags sticking up from each passenger door. My son’s school allowed the kids to wear Chargers shirts or colors on Friday. Did San Diego have football fever? It felt like it. And it felt contagious. I’ve never been a sports fan but even I felt the excitement building in the city.
I wanted to blog about it, but by the time I got back from a birthday party and onto the computer I’d learned that the Chargers lost today’s game. But I’m writing nonetheless because what although their season is over, something else is still there. When your city is part of the playoffs, maybe it’s not really about the game, the team or the Super Bowl itself. What moved me wasn’t the chance to be swept up in the tidal wave of victory. No, to me the sudden sea f blue shirts represented something much bigger, much more important: a sense of unity. I liked seeing kids, grandmas, bankers and bikers all unified. In a city as big as San Diego people race around, leading their lives, rushing to or from work, living near other people but without interacting. People may not know their neighbors or spend the time to find common ground with those around them. The number of blue shirts was a physical sign that we as people have a lot in common. Sports doesn’t need to be the catalyst for coming together, but if it is, so be it. Whatever inspires us to search for what we have in common with others is valid. Although today’s game ended poorly for San Diego, it heartened me to see people united. Maybe it will inspire us to find other ways to come together with those around us…