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Beneath the Cloak: Illusion March 24, 2009

Posted by CapitalSpirit in Uncategorized.

Why am I not having fun right now?

By all accounts, this season should be one to cherish. The Caps have been pretty much the class of the Southeast for most of the season, and are a handful of points from locking up a division title and a Top 3 seed. They might be able to pass New Jersey tonight for second overall in the Eastern Conference. Alex Ovechkin has 50 goals for the third time in four years, which only two other players in NHL history have done. Mike Green might yet have 30 goals, and could get a Norris nomination. Verizon Center is rocking the red like it’s going out of style, and the playoffs are going to be a madhouse at the Phone Booth.

On a personal level, I’ve been a guest in Ted’s box this year, and that was incredibly special. Against my own initial reluctance, I agreed to go on Red Line Monday, and the finished segment was astonishingly well-edited and well-received (I actually got complimented about it down in Raleigh over the weekend.) And how can I forget Brooks Laich making an introduction? Team personnel all seem genuinely happy to see me whenever our paths cross. This humble blog is now getting linked to from the Game Day Threads on the Message Boards.

By all accounts, this season should be one to cherish. So why am I not having fun right now?

Perhaps our recent setback in Raleigh has dampened my spirits a bit. I was present to witness that, and I probably should have listened to something hopeful on the way back. Sunday was mostly spent getting some rest after being up for nearly twenty consecutive hours–I might have ended up overcompensating, and sleeping a bit too much. It wasn’t exactly the best weekend of my life, and perhaps that’s dragging me down.

Is it because I still–despite heroic efforts by the Caps–feel like I just don’t fit in here? I know that sounds strange, because regular readers will know I’ve said before that this is the best “fit” I’ve ever found. But the road trip to Raleigh is bugging me.

Perhaps what’s haunting me about it isn’t the game itself. Perhaps it’s the reception I got. The concessionaires were all terrific, security didn’t even look at me funny, and I got MAYBE two snarky comments on the concourse the whole time I was there. And that was more than offset by the number of fans in Hurricanes sweaters who came up and asked, sincerely and without animosity, what my attire was all about.

And that sort of throws my attendance at Caps games into clear relief. Despite the Caps’ best efforts, despite assurances from several angels I work with, and despite knowing on multiple levels that this really is my place, I still doubt my place here. How well can I be fitting in, if I’m still getting slings and arrows from fans in Caps attire, at home?

Maybe all the moving around I’ve done has given me a state of permanent transience–the idea that there’s nothing in this world that I’ll ever be able to keep. That’s probably one reason I spend so much time on spiritual matters: there, at least, I know I can’t lose what I have.

Maybe, when it’s all said and done, I’m just not meant to know what it means to feel like I really belong. Maybe it’s more basic than that: perhaps I really DON’T belong anywhere. Not even here.

And just as I typed that–literally as my fingers were hitting the keys–I was reminded of the song “Illusion” by VNV Nation. (Somewhere, there’s an angel that’s at the top of his game today.) Here’s an excerpt:

I know it’s hard to tell how mixed-up you feel;
Hoping what you need is behind every door.
Each time you get hurt, I don’t want you to change,
‘Cause everyone has hopes. You’re human, after all.
The feeling sometimes, wishing you were someone else,
Feeling as though you never belonged;
This feeling is not sadness, this feeling is not joy.
I truly understand. Please don’t cry now.

Please don’t go. I want you to stay.
I’m begging you please, please don’t leave here.
I don’t want you to hate, for all the hurt that you feel.
The world is just illusion, trying to change you.

Well, okay, let me run with that.

When I’m heading for a Caps game on a weeknight, there’s always some smart-aleck in or around the Metro who wants to project his insecurities on me. Most of the less-original ones I completely ignore, but sometimes, I’m not quite perfect on defense. Some of the insults I get from random passerby are things I won’t print on this blog. Is that illusion?

At the game, I’ve had fans in Caps gear call me stuff I didn’t even hear in Philadelphia. Is that illusion?

The Caps message boards, and the misbehavior there…do I need to elaborate? Is that illusion?

But then–and here’s where I’m getting stuff that I suspect is from an angel–what of the fans who ask for me to pose for photos? Is that illusion, too?

What of fans who have asked me to autograph their jerseys–sometimes insisting on it over my own protests? Is that illusion, too?

What, too, of all those fans who’ve complimented me on that Red Line Monday segment? Is that illusion, too?

What, exactly, of all those “heroic” efforts by the Caps? Are those illusion, too?

All right. Even with all of that said, why, then, do I still not feel like I fit in?

Perhaps the answer is that it’s not supposed to be a feeling.

So, in the end, I may never feel like I belong. But I guess the important thing is just TO belong–even if, as it sometimes happens, I sometimes feel like I don’t. And besides–I’ll probably be having a lot more fun come playoff time.

Still…it’s hard sometimes. I just wish, for once in my life, that I could know, feel, and–most importantly–BELIEVE that I belonged, somewhere. It’s more than a feeling–I get that. But for whatever reason–nomadic life, thin skin, or just good old-fashioned personal insecurity–I still have trouble accepting that I’ve been, well, accepted.

For me, that’s going to take an awful lot of getting used to. It’s going to take some time to deprogram all that negativity and rejection I’ve been carrying around for most of my life. It’s not going to be easy or brief, but I need to do it, lest I live out my life ever alone, and in vain.

Si est dolor similis, sicut dolor meus.




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