Once In A Lifetime. . .

Sid holds the Cup aloft during the Victory Parade in downtown Pittsburgh 6/15/16 photo by Mary Gottschalk

I think I may have mentioned growing up in Cleveland.

Where nothing like this has happened in my lifetime and probably never will.

So I was there today – at 8 a.m. for an 11:30 a.m. parade.  I was nervous – I don’t like going downtown and I don’t like mingling with 350,000 people.

But if I never did this, I knew, or think I knew, I might not ever get another chance.

Why is this important? Is it important?

I guess because a big part of me always wanted to be part of a winner. And growing up in Cleveland the whole idea of losing teams, and the ignominy that goes with it is part of it, made it painful. We identify with the city we live in and, rightly or wrongly, with the sports teams it represents.

I still don’t think Cleveland got over when the Browns left for Baltimore in 1995. Now they’re desperately pulling for the basketball Cavaliers to pull off a miracle in the NBA finals.

I know it’s pro sports and it’s a business.

But there is really something about this city that’s different and I can feel it. I’ve been living here 5 1/2 years and today felt like I belonged here, that I became a ‘burgh person. Not a ‘Yinzer’ per se, but a naturalized Pittsburgher.

I’m proud of my high school and what they did. Cleveland State I couldn’t give a hang about.

To be a part of this community, to be a full part of it, you become a part of the black and gold legacy, even if you don’t realize it. Just tell someone in another part of the country and the first thing they think of is not the Carnegie Museum or the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. Rightly or wrongly – it’s the teams.

I realize that to many, this is a sad admission of self-identification with something that will not love you back (like falling in love with a car). But I would put it that there is a part of all of us that needs to celebrate vicariously through things we love but can’t be a part of – except as a fan in a city.

Does it feel good – you bet. Is that wrong? No.

I don’t live and die with teams anymore. If the Pens had lost, I would have been disappointed but not hung over the next day in the depths of depression. That would be – immature.

But if they’re going to win it all, and I’m living here, I’m gonna celebrate.

And if that raises my mood for a little while, I think that’s a good thing.

And I will never forget standing 20 feet away from Sid Crosby holding aloft the Stanley Cup in the city I live in. Ever.

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