In 2010, I graduated from Cal State Bakersfield with a degree in Philosophy. My degree taught me how to smoke pot in the library and write unfunny jokes. Despite never learning to write a cover letter, create a resume or any other practical life skills, I had graduated. I knew from this day forward it was going to get harder to justify wearing pajamas out in public.
The graduation wasn’t from school. All things being equal I learned about 5% of the things I should have learned. This graduation was from the place I begrudgingly called home for my entire life, Bakersfield.
You see where I’m from; it isn’t pleasant. Babies born in Bakersfield hospitals don’t scream to clear their lungs. I believe it’s because they have an innate feeling that they just drew the group of death in the World Cup of life. Or maybe it’s just brand new flesh introducing itself to the nation’s most polluted air. Do you remember that feeling? I bet it looked like this:
Graduation meant the start of life. I moved to Portland to start my life. However, after studying philosophy for three years, the magic, the idea of love, the idea that unexpected things can still happen, seemed impossible. Theory has a tendency to squeeze magic out of the rag of the universe like dirty dishwater.
I decided to move to Portland where it seemed like people still believed in magic. It still seems absurd to me but endearing nonetheless. I tried to convince my friend and fellow Timbro Jose to move with me. As you might notice with the Timbros, it’s quite common for Bakersfield natives to move and try to rapture their like minded friends away from the dystopian desert.
Eventually, Jose did join me here in Portland. As a symbolic gesture to celebrate our escape, he bought season tickets just before Timbers 2011 inaugural season. I knew a little about soccer but I knew nothing of the beautiful game. The Timbers’ 2011 season would teach me everything I needed know.
Like life, 2011 had its ups and downs. Pure joy, over-confidence, devastation, frustration are all intricate parts of the growth of a soccer fan, and the growth of a person into a new life, in a new city. I learned one thing quickly. Regardless of win, lose, or draw, I always had the army. Oh, and John Spencer inexplicably hated making subs.
The Timbers Army is like a good friend. You know because you are the Army. You provided camaraderie rain or shine. I’ve learned you have to sing louder in the rain than you do the sun. When you are down you fight harder. If love isn’t unconditional, it isn’t love at all.
And I learned the meaning of the somewhat annoying statement, “We’re not fans, we’re supporters.”
We don’t just support the team, we support each other. Yes, that means allowing for people who don’t know soccer to be amongst you. It means supporting each other even when we imbibe a little too much. Although, let’s all take a moment and rejoice the fact that over educated drunks are the best kind of drunks. This is still my favorite attempted insult of all time.
I celebrated with you when I fell in love, when I landed that new job, and I felt for the first time, truly connected. You even let me do this:
So when someone asks me why I joined the Army, I say because the magic is real and to truly love and support, you need to have belief beyond reason.
This article is dedicated to Rachel, who will be attending her first Timbers game with the Army. May her love grow the way all of ours has.