By the time I wake up tomorrow, the 1. FC Köln will already have departed on their way to Florida.
I do not leave until Saturday, which somehow cannot get here soon enough while also seeming like it’s incredibly close.
Without question, I’m incredibly excited to be making the journey, knowing that covering the Florida Cup events is going to turn the team from something I follow intently but at a great distance to something by which I’m surrounded for the better part of a full week. This makes me very anxious to get there and get going.
At the same time, I’m also obsessing about doing as much preparation for the trip as possible, meaning that every day seems to be over very quickly and always with plenty left to do. But I know I can’t really ever do enough reading and reseach and interview-question preparation, so I’m largely at peace with that.
But I am going to be away from my two sons for far longer than I’ve ever been since I became a parent. For that matter, it’s also going to be the longest I’ve been away from my wife since we married.
Granted, it’s not like it used to be. The same technology that has allowed Anthony Ujah to be the most-famous footballer in our little corner of west Seattle will also allow me to see my boys nightly, though it won’t allow for hugs, kisses, and the occasional tickle.
Even so, I am becoming increasingly aware of how difficult I may find it to be. I’m also wondering how it will impact them not seeing me every day, at least not in person.
My elder son, Owen, is pretty excited about the concept of my going to see the billy goats, though, to him, Florida may as well be Köln, and the Florida Cup may as well be the World Cup. He just knows that I’m going somewhere far away to see our favorite team play.
And he knows he’s not coming with me.
“I wish I was coming with you, Daddy,” was how I was greeted last night when I met the rest of my family at my wife’s car as they arrived home from work and school.
Earlier that day, in the daily newsletter we receive by email from our son’s classroom, we learned that the topic of discussion was geography. Each child’s answer to “If you could travel one place in the world where would you go?” was listed in the newsletter.
Owen’s answer? “Germany, where the billy goats play.” Knowing that my coming trip was maintaing residence in my elder son’s throughts and that there is no series of circumstances that would make it happen, there was the obigatory response.
“So do I, buddy.”
Don’t get me wrong. I am incredibly pleased that Owen has embraced the sport and the club, and I also do look forward to the day we, together, enter the stadium at Müngersdorf for the first time and then catch that first glimpse of the swath of green grass as we make our way toward our seats from the concourse. We’ll share a currywurst, probably. I’m certain if you asked him, he’d tell you that I’ll probably get a beer. He would also like to be having a beer, but knows that he can’t, but will leverage the special nature of the day to get something else. Cotton candy if they have it, I suppose.
But this is neither the time nor place for all of that, though. This is a vacation of sorts, but it’s going to be a hard-working vacation, and it simply couldn’t be such if the family came with. I’d be too distracted.
What I can do, though, is find a pretty awesome birthday gift while I’m there, though it might be a bit presumptuous to think the clubs are going to have much in the way of merchandise with them. I feel fairly safe in thinking there will be at least one bit of Florida Cup-branded merchandise with the Geißbock on it that will make a great gift, if not a preschooler-sized Anthony Ujah Karneval jersey.
And, if nothing else, I’m right in the heart of Disney, which is home to Jake of “Jake and the Neverland Pirates. I’m arriving armed with a fall-back plan.