This week’s two new things sit on opposite ends of the socializing spectrum. On one side was a stadium of chanting, scarf waving, bird-flipping soccer fans. On the other was miles of hot sunny beach with nothing but crows and crabs for company.
Going to a Timbers game has been on my list of things to do for some time. Low on the list, I guess, since they’ve been a Major League Soccer team here for four or five years now and I’d done nothing about it but collect anecdotes about how crazy the fans are. It’s very loud, one friend told me. It’s non-stop, another said.
It was loud. It was non-stop. The free tickets my friend was given happened to be in the section dominated by the Timbers Army. On a beautiful Sunday afternoon, we squeezed into a row a few feet back from the rowdiest crowds and settled in for some insanity. Led by a few similarly stout and bearded men and one woman with a white-blonde mohawk, the chants and songs were nearly continuous. On a few occasions, I forgot to watch the game because I was distracted by the hundreds (thousands?) of people simultaneously flipping off a player on the LA team for falling to the ground in exaggerated pain or a bad call by the ref. I was distracted by trying to figure out the altered lyrics they were singing to the tune of “Anarchy in the U.K.” or that what they were singing totally unadulterated was “You Are My Sunshine” and “Can’t Help Falling in Love.”
The game was pretty interesting, though I have nothing to gage it against other than my own vague memories of playing soccer in elementary school. Even now, so many decades later, I could still tap into my old fear which was the possibility that someone might actually kick the ball to me. In light of that, these athletes seemed amazing. The fact that we scored in the last few seconds to bring the game to a tie was incredible. That night on the news, however, was the announcement that the Timbers were now ranked last in the league. Ah well, guess it’s a good thing my sportsball days are so limited.
The next day, I took a spontaneous drive out to the coast. I felt a little guilty not taking anyone with me, but I’ve been working on being more present, more attentive and being alone is the best way for me to do that. With temps rising into the high 80’s, it was great to turn off my music, roll down the windows and just take in all that delicious air up and over the coast range.
I headed to Cape Lookout, a beach I’d never been to before and was amazed at the nearly complete lack of people there. I felt like a billionaire on her own private beach. The sun was hot, the sky was blue and, get this, the water even felt almost tolerable. I walked in the ocean for most of the time, watching the sea foam and the sea foam shadows ride in an out around my feet. Eventually, when I was sure nobody else was around, I stripped down, laid out and got some sun on my skin. I listened to the waves and the wind. I listened to my breath and tried to find my heartbeat.
Before heading back to the city, I drove south a little further along a stretch of coastline I always seem to miss, ending in Pacific City. After the solitude of Cape Lookout, this beach felt crowded and largely unappealing. Cars are allowed on the sand here, a sight I never like. But the tide pools were pretty and the looming sand dune was impressive.
Windows down, hair a windblown mess, I curved my way back through the woods and into the city feeling more balanced by the communion and solitude of my weekend than I have in a long time.