Monday, February 8, 2010

Destiny?

It's the day after.

The New Orleans Saints now have been Super Bowl Champions for a whole day. We've all pinched ourselves and haven't woken up.

We turned out, 30,000 strong, to greet the team at the airport. My own sister-in-law and niece were in that number.

We saw all the fingerprints and all the lip prints on the Lombardi Trophy, still clutched in the fist of our coach.

We saw our hero, Drew Brees, visit Mickey and Minnie in Disney World then fly up to New York to yuk it up with David Letterman -- who is from Indiana.

And we heard, over and over again, how this was a team of destiny. How this was all God's plan.

We all looked for signs. And there were plenty.

There was the thing with the number 4, and the thing with the number 9. There was the fact that the last four teams to wear white won. Somewhere in our brains we found reassurance in them, confirmation that, despite the dire predictions of the NFL "experts," we did have a chance.

And there was the good-guy quarterback with the destroyed shoulder who had a choice to play in New Orleans or in Miami...where this year's Super Bowl was being played.


I am not a religious person. I'm more of a casual church goer, making my way to Sacred Heart because I'm supposed to and because I want to be part of the church family with my husband and my child. I wouldn't say I'm devout.

But sometimes you just have to believe.

I believe.

But that's because I am the woman who was desperate to become a mother and could not have a child. I am the woman who had a woman who had made me a promise change her mind the same week my husband's family was giving me a surprise baby shower, 19 days before the date circled on my calendar.

I am the woman nicknamed Lo who took a random phone call from a woman named Lodrigue and knew in her gut that there was a reason why. Then convinced her husband.

And I am the woman who became the mother of a daughter who is so like me that it is frightening. And I believe that I was destined to be her mother all along.

They say everything happens for a reason. If I hadn't been infertile, I would not have become the mother of this wonderful, extraordinary, incredible child. And yes I believe that it was all a part of God's plan.

So let us believe that this was too. That a town still struggling to its knees from the knock-down from Hurricane Katrina four years ago was due for something good, something wonderful, something special in Super Bowl 44, the year we elected the 44th president.

And let us believe that our No. 9 was better than the guy born and bred in New Orleans, whose father had been our previously most beloved quarterback, and whose jersey No. 18 added up to 9.

And let us believe that this was fate and destiny.

Or just dumb luck.

We'll take it either way.

Dancing in the Street

It's nearly 2 a.m. on the morning of February 8, 2009, and I'm sitting here like a kid on Christmas Eve.

I'm listening for the telltale sounds outside on my front lawn so that I can run outside to pounce. I hope I don't scare the poor man away.

I simply can't wait to see Monday's edition of The Times-Picayune.

It's not that I don't know what it will say. In some form or fashion, it will tell me and the rest of the world that the New Orleans Saints won Super Bowl XLIV, beating the unbeatable Indianapolis Colts and Peyton Manning 31-17.

But I already knew that.

I watched the game. I screamed and yelled and jumped up and down with my husband, my mother and my daughter. My brother was there too, in spirit anyway.

And my father-in-law. Well, he's really here. The box containing his ashes is on a shelf in my living room. And after the first quarter, when things weren't looking so good for the home team, we realized that his box was wearing the wrong hat. We quickly switched him from a Destrehan hat to a Saints NFC Champions hat and, suddenly, things changed.

The Saints got hot.

They began to score.

Our screams became more frequent.

We started to believe. REALLY believe.


And as the final seconds ticked off and the Saints carried their coach onto the field on their shoulders, we ran outside to scream some more and see the fireworks and hear our neighbors who were screaming too.

And we cried.

Then I grabbed my 9-year-old daughter, who has absolutely no idea of the magnitude of this occasion, and ran into the middle of our empty street. And we danced around in circles.

Then we came back inside to watch our team and our town celebrate with the big silver trophy.

And in the hours since (about four now), I've been surfing the Internet for the stories of how the game was won and the photos of how the game was won. And I've chatted with friends and colleagues who were actually there to write about the game, living the dream night of their careers and trying to come up with the greatest words of their lives in this monumental occasion.

Now I am in my living room, passing the time as I wait for my Monday edition of The Times-Picayune to land on my lawn. And when it does, I will run.

I can't wait to hold it in my hands. And I can't wait to see the headline my oh-so-clever co-workers have come up with to mark this moment in history. And I can't wait to read the stories and the statistics. And I can't wait to see the pictures my friends took.

And I know I will cry.

And then it will go into the big box in my upstairs closet for safekeeping. And maybe, someday, that 9-year-old daughter will find it for herself and sit down and read it. And maybe she will understand.

And maybe she will cry too.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Dis and Dat




Flags are flying from houses, from car windows. People are installing flag poles just for the occasion.

People are shoe polishing their own car windows.

And grown women are wandering the aisles of Barnes and Noble wearing football jerseys. On a Saturday afternoon. The week before Mardi Gras.

In New Orleans.

There is definitely a phenomenon going on.

It's called Who Dat Fever, and the city of New Orleans certainly has it. So do the suburbs.

On my street alone there is a house with Who Dat spelled out in Christmas lights, there are several "Who Dat Nation" yard signs and a giant plywood Who Dat adorns a front lawn. Then, the local A/C repair company installed a giant flag pole yesterday -- to run up a Saints flag.

I even have my own little Saints shrine in my front window.

Yesterday I saw the gas man in his Saints jersey and he didn't stand out at all. So are all of the shoppers in the grocery store and all the kids at my kid's school.

And every woman in the city owns at least one Fleur de Lis piece of jewelry.

A drive to the city today was like being in a summer all-star parade. Shoe polish doodles spell out "Geaux Saints" and "Who Dat" on every other car window. Those that don't have either a Fleur de Lis decal on the back or black and gold flags flying from the windows.

The New Orleans Saints are in the Super Bowl for the first time ever, and it is an amazing experience.

We are savoring it. Every second of it. Because it took us 43 years just to get here and we know not if we will pass this way again. People we know didn't live to see this. Will we live to see it again? Is this truly an historic event?

It certainly is for the Who Dat Nation. I have friends in Miami for XLIV, co-workers and colleagues who are writing their dream stories for their papers and their blogs and their networks and us fans.

I have friends in Miami who scored dream tickets to the dream game.

I have friends in Miami who are just getting drunk.

And we are spending a sleepless night because we are excited. But we also are a little worried. They are saying we can't win. They are saying we won't win. They are saying there is no way we can beat the son of the most beloved quarterback in our team's history, who is currently considered the best in the game. They are saying we will be crying on Monday.

And we likely will be.

But we've been crying for 43 years, over every loss snatched from the jaws of victory, over every missed field goal, every fumble at the goal line, every Hail Mary pass thrown against us.

But we've been crying for two weeks, ever since that goofy looking little kicker clutched out and kicked the most historic 40-yard field goal in football history, ever since my friend Jim Henderson screamed at the top of his lungs that pigs were flying, ever since we punched our ticket to the big game for the first time EVER.

And we've cried each and every time our brains try to wrap themselves around the thought, "The Saints are in the Super Bowl. OUR Saints."

And win or lose on Sunday, we'll be crying some more.