Never before had I felt the magnetic pull of home as strongly as I did on Wednesday night. Text messages, phone calls and emails were flying into my New York City apartment shouting, “We won!” “Go Phils!” and “Phileeeeeeeeees!”
The win wasn’t news to me. At the time I was rolling around on my dusty floor, half crying, yelling the same celebrations. The television was cranked up, blaring the stadium crowd noise and showing player after player jumping on Brad Lidge in supreme jubilation. There was no place I would have rather been than the place I grew up, Philadelphia.
Having been born mere days before the Phillies won their 1980 championship, and having spent most of my life on a baseball field, I am affected, like most Philadelphians, by the plight of this team. So if there was ever a time to celebrate, this was it.
When I went outside I found the streets empty, as empty as New York streets can be. The chatter at most bars revolved around the stock market, with guys in suits too big for them and ties too tight around their necks cheersing an up day. The televisions had already been turned to analysts bickering over Barack Obama’s evening message. No one made mention of William Penn, Geoff Jenkins, or the Flyin’ Hawaiian. The flying what? Saddest of all, not one person said, “I remember when…” and went on to talk about where they were the last time they felt this sort of Philadelphia pride.
I’ve traveled to some pretty distant places in my life. But I’ve never felt so far from home, so far from people who “understand,” than being just 95 miles from Center City.
What does this victory mean for Philadelphians no longer living near the Schuylkill? For starters, we finally have something to gloat about – fuel to fight the sports fires of our current resident cities. New Yorkers, Bostonians, whatever people in L.A. are called, get ready. We don’t have to listen to you anymore. It’s our time. And just because we don’t live in Philadelphia doesn’t mean that we can’t act like we do.
But if we want to get the best of both worlds, this is the best reason we’ll ever have to come home – or at least visit. How many Yuenglings have you downed to erase the memory of a last second loss? How many cheesesteaks have you eaten out of frustration? With or without? You see, this is our chance to experience all that makes us happy with the timing and celebratory energy to boot. There are no qualifiers this week. There are no maybes. No “Yeah, but…”s. There is no better time to be a Philadelphian in Philadelphia.
So, congratulations Phillies and the city of Philadelphia. See you at the parade.