A Beautiful Game
The coffees and chilled water at the bar in the hot square had turned into vermouth on ice and little snacks. Had turned into negronis and slightly less snacks at the bar, had turned into one of those conversations about football.
Between strangers of different ages and languages and places. Where players names and stadium names and managers names and goals that were scored fifty twenty, ten, five, years ago. Acted out with bottles for players and salt shakers for posts and a rolled up receipt for a ball.
It was one of those conversations that goes from sit down to stand up to who’s got a ball to heading over to the space where the stone benches sat all day and all night.
An olive branch between people. The fruits of football, harvested. A game between strangers. A shared wisdom leading to a kickabout in the sun.
In Aztec mythology, Xochiquetzal is the Goddess of many things.
Beauty, love, fertility, flowers, vegetation.
Art, dance, Music.
The mother of all humanity.
All who were faithful to her would spend eternity in her paradise.
In Hindu mythology, Kamadeva, the God of love, rides doves.
The Celts saw the dove as an oracle. Watching it’s behavior. A messenger. A healer.
Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, had doves fluttering around her. A celestial goddess with heavenly power.
In the Christian bible, it’s a dove that Noah sends to see if there’s any land. When it returned with an olive twig in its beak, Noah knew there was dry land somewhere.
Like football, doves can touch everyone, connect everyone, bring everyone to dry, peaceful land.
The smell of orange blossom is heavy. The last flutters of a Swallowtail in the fading light. Red Carnations swaying in a sweet breeze. Summer storm clouds gather, amplifying the fading pink light.
Orange trees. A golden ball suspended, plucked from a branch. An offering sparkling with thirst-quenching natural juice.
Glistening. Energy. Restoration.
Local lore suggests it’s acceptable to pick the oranges from the tree-lined streets and plazas in the fading sun. Providing you eat the whole orange without leaving the shade of the tree.
You peel it all in one, digging fingers and thumb and sharing slices.
Memories of halftime.
Chaos, the time before everything, was boring for the Gods. There wasn’t much to do. There was no solid land. There was no sun, no moon, no flowing rivers, no freshwater, no seas, no mountains, and no pure air to breathe. Chaos was dull. There was no ball.
But then came the light, the ball, the pitch. Helios, on his daily ride east to west, Ethiopia to Hesperides, dropping a ball off his chariot. It was time to play.
From then on it was kick-ups at sunset and The Battle for Olympus at dawn. A wayward shot zipping past Zeus’ ear around lunchtime and Midas applying the golden touch to a lazy through ball at golden hour.
The sun is on the pitch, in the pitch, on your skin, in your brain. It’s in the ball in the sky. On the centre circle and the penalty area.
The sun is on your chest.