L and I went to school together in Tinytown. I don't remember the last time, specifically, that I saw him, but it had to have been during the spring of 1995, our junior year of high school. We met earlier today at some place in Houston, then went to some other place in Houston to watch a World Cup game. I liked that L had no idea why I was in the area. Unlike many of my Facebook friends that I've met up with recently, he didn't know that I was seeing him just for the purpose of seeing him, but thought that I might have been in the area for another, primary purpose. I don't even know why I liked it, but I did. Maybe it's because, for quite some time, I don't surprise anybody any longer. During this project's early days, back before anybody really knew what was going on, there was a different vibe, an innocence or naivete. Now that many of my Facebook friends are aware of what I'm doing, it sometimes seems less spontaneous and fun and more pre-planned and rehearsed. It's not that way, really, but it was still great to hear L ask, genuinely, "Um, why are you here?"
I don't know a ton about soccer, but I understand the very basics. I also understand that when the U.S. competes in an international anything, it's your duty as an American to root for them. I recently heard another Facebook friend say that the World Cup is "like war, but without the guns." He might be right. As L and I watched the U.S. play against Portugal, I couldn't help but be amazed by how into it the crowd got. They were intense, passionate, and probably even a bit illogical in their fervor, but that's just the way it sometimes goes with sports, and with matters of nationalism. One point of interest to me was that on that day, in that bar, we were all Americans. We weren't Minnesotans and Texans. We weren't Seahawks fans and Broncos fans. We weren't products of our undergraduate instutitions. No, we were all Americans.
This long journey of mine, though it has been physically limited to the U.S., has shown me time and again that the differences between people are very slight, especially when viewed in relation to our similarities. Being with L and watching that soccer game (or is it a match?) with him and a bunch of Americans only further solidified my belief that we are all so very much alike. And to me, that's a good thing. Yes, there is still work to be done. We can't simply have similarities, but must also recognize these similarities and begin to treat one another better because of this realization. Additionally, this feeling of oneness needs to start extending beyond borders, at least outside of the soccer world. Being united as Americans would be great, but being united as people, and treating each other with the respect that unity brings, would be infinitely better.