I had been clapping in the wrong places. I had let go of my pent up breath at all the wrong times. Shouting support to the wrong kids.
And now there was just uncomfortable silence.
“Hey, Mrs. C! Aren't you in the wrong place?” yelled a friend of my son's who waved when he saw me in the crowd. “That's the visitors' stand.”
I guess I zigged when I should have zagged.
I took a left when I should have taken a right.
The people behind me? Not. With. Our. Team.
I wasn't even thinking about sides when I entered the gymnasium. No one was, if you took my son as an example. He had been wearing blue before he retracted his arms inside of his shirt, artfully turned out the white side of his reversible basketball uniform and then disappeared into the crowd. I was alone, so I just scanned the room and headed toward the place with open seats.
These days, it's not difficult to find yourself in enemy territory. Any Left will take you there. But in school – where teachers have taken to referring to everyone as “friends” – rivalries can be confusing.
Carefully, precariously ascending the seat/stair construct of bleachers -- maximum seating with minimal visual obstruction – I choose a section with minimal fans. But I was thinking more about convenience than loyalties. No one will have to scoot down, or move over, or lift any luggage they may have brought with them as they were traveling.
Still … I didn't think about being Home away from home.
Of course, we were winning.
Which just made my outbursts all the worse.
Every articulation – excitement or disappointment – could be translated as a potential dig at the “friends” behind me.
Every silver lining had its dark cloud: Every ball we turned over was a ball they lost. Every point we gained was a point they'd have to overcome. All fouls were personal.
And the more I tried to subdue my reactions, the more awkward it got.
I may have covered my mouth, but I hadn't covered my eyes nor could I temper my body's reaction to what my eyes had seen. A steal. An assist. A three-pointer. *Quietly whispers YAY! *Silently* rocking in the stands, I just gave up and started clapping for everyone. Good plays are good plays, regardless of which color jersey scores.
And then … miraculously … it seemed as if I were not alone in my awkwardness.
The man behind me even started to grumble at the refs.
“Anytime they want to call a Travel … that would be good.”
The woman next to him shushed and elbowed him gently, admonishing: “That call would be on us. Our side was traveling, you know.”
“Yeah … I don't know which end is up.”
I couldn't help but laugh. But I was grateful the whistle blasts were sparse.
I turned to let him know I felt his pain.
“Yeah … the time clock would never tick down if they made every call. We'd be here until our kids were all grown up.”
“That is the truth,” the man laughed back. “I keep forgetting we're not Home.”