December 03, 2015

An Adventure For Champions

Do you have a favorite picture that you took this year? What was the story behind it?

My alarm went off at three o'clock in the morning, and I boarded a train by five. Every passenger was like herded cattle, where all the seats were taken up and I had to brace myself up against a wall in order to stay standing. The train ended up making only three stops afterward due to nearing capacity, so I made it to the city a lot quicker than expected. Right away I knew that this was one of the few days that Chicago collectively woke up before dawn. And being that this was my first time at any sort of sports-related championship celebration, I knew I had to be somewhat cautious. My mom had spent the days beforehand fretting about my safety, in which I reassured her that I had bopped around enough to where I had some idea of what I was doing. After meeting my friend inside the train station, we began making our way through the already-crowded streets toward another's apartment. 

"You look like a woman on a mission!" She was referring to the determined look on my face.  

"Well, it's not every day we get to see the Blackhawks raise the Stanley Cup!"

 Granted this was the third time in six years, but not until now was I motivated enough to stand among thousands and cheer for it. The parade would take place first and then follow with a rally shortly after (we would only attend the second part because we had highly coveted tickets for it). Regardless, I felt like a little kid at Christmas, and was determined to be there even if danger was a possibility.

By the time we made it into the stadium a little before noon, both the temperature and humidity had risen a bit, and I was a little bit desperate for water. I'd chosen to forgo alcohol for safety purposes, and because I wanted to experience this with a clear head. I can't remember how long we waited for it to actually start, but we did pass the time with people watching and eating french fries. 

It didn't take long for the atmosphere to electrify, so much that at one point I simultaneously had goosebumps on my arms and tears in my eyes. It wasn't just about winning or history; it was about being surrounded by well over thousands of people who rooted for and were passionate about the same team. Not to mention we were all crazy enough to be here in the first place. 

I felt happy. Alive. Absolutely alive is the only way to really describe it. And I knew right than and there that it was something I would always savor.

Call me a fair-weather fan or bandwaggoner, though I only avoided watching the playoffs because I get way too anxious. I'd like to think of it in the sense that sometimes you don't appreciate something until you open your eyes and really look at it. 

I was beyond exhausted by the time I got home, but couldn't even take a nap because of the excitement and adrenaline. I'm fortunate to have been able to experience something as incredible as that, particularly in the midst of such a crazy summer. 

My grandfather and I now have tradition of watching the games together (and yelling at the TV a lot). It's one of those little things that make me light up. It's competitive, it's aggressive, but it's also something that I can share with people that I care about. 

And that's the best adventure of all. 

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