All the office is achatter. Last night, Italy won themselves a spot in the finals (of the World Cup, if you're isolated enough not to know). It was an evening that contrasted very much with that wherethehellamI? emotion I was feeling Monday and Tuesday morning.
I had a really nice day yesterday before the evening, rediscovering Pandora.com, a free online music 'radio' that tunes into your musical tastes and plays songs similar to artists you enjoy (thanks VanBuren for the introduction). I finally defined my taste in music: poppy with an undertone of rock and full of potent soulful lyrics (think Rufus Wainwright, Phantom Planet, Nina Gordon, Anna Nalick, Shakira, Sarah McLachlan, Gavin DeGraw and Alanis Morissette). After a long day of non stop music that fit right into my tastes, I headed home to help Carly shop for her 4th of July dinner. Dorota enlisted the American visitor to cook dinner for the holiday for which Carly didn't really care. But Carley loves cooking (hamburgers and potatoes we decided together, go to hell pasta and tomatoes! [at least for one evening]), so it's all good. And she bought sprinkles because they reminded her of fireworks. After heading to the pool to swim laps with Niki (25m laps in a very crowded and badly paced lane, they were all that way), I returned home with enough time to collect myself before the game.
Seeing that the game was on and dinner was ready, there was no way possible that we were going to eat at the table. This was the first time I assure you that we had a picnic on Dorota's bed since the game superseded decorum in event of the semi-final. Never have I yelled so much at the TV, yelling NO to the Germans whenever they had the ball and screaming DAI DAI DAI (literally give give give) at the little azzuri players on the screen whenever they had the ball, tensing with the approaching tedeschi (germans) and groaning at the close calls by Italy. Dorota kept predicting that the Germans would score a goal and I kept reproaching her (in the nicest of ways of course, Ma Veramente Dorota! But Really Dorota!). I was so involved in the game that even when they replayed missed opportunities at goals (rebounding shots of goalposts, SO close) I was groaning again in defeat. Even when Dorota and Matilde told me that the first replay had already happened, they showed a second replay to which I also reacted with groans and then complete laughter realizing I was yelling at the past, let alone at the TV. The entire neighbourhood seemed to be erupting at every move, dogs barking at the omnipresent noise.
The entire game went without a goal but constant intensity. By the end of the first overtime half, it looked like this game might have to go to penalty kicks. It wasn't until perhaps the last 2 minutes that Italy came in for the win. Whereas all their previous corner kicks had gone straight to the german goalie, a corner kick was now shot a bit farther away from the net, bounced around and then launched to the upper corner. GOOOOOOOAAAAAAAALLLLLLL!!! The courtyard went up in screams, dogs started barking, cars honked from the streets, and a bunch of men kept yelling goal from their apartments. Of course our household, now comprised of Dorota, Matilde, Carley, Marina, Niki and I, went nuts, yelling excitedly, running around to see how other people were reacting, whistling out the window (I have no idea how Niki does it). Exciting right?, 1-0, with a few minutes left, it's possible that Italy could win, but Germany could tie it up. Before any of us were really conscious of it, with seconds left in the game, gli azzuri broke away from the germans, deeked out their defense and launched another pallone up into the upper right this time. GGOOOOOAAAALLLLL! We were dumbstruck. Non è possibile (It's not possible) exclaimed Dorota. We jumped up for joy, hugged each other, went a little crazy.
The entire boot must have erupted in joy as the germans started to cry (quite sadly and depressingly I might add). Cars were honking outside, people were yelling out their windows (Andiamo in Finale! We're going to the Final!), the barking dogs now drowned out in the noise. Before long cars were queueing for downtown, waving their flags out the window, screaming. Of course we had to go be a part of this mess of a celebration, yelling and honking. It must have continued at full volume for at very least an hour. Carley tells me that the honking lasted in smaller doses until 2.30- 3.00am, a good 3 hours after the game had ended. We walked down the street, cheering on the celebrants waving our arms and letting out our lungs. At one point, we were on the corner, a car passed by yelling but paused as Carley reponded in excited cheer. The man yelling out of the car paused and then yelled quite nonchalantly 'bella figa (beautiful babe for lack of a better translation)'. Marina doubled over in laughter and congratulated Carley... a truly Italian experience.
The patriotism, the pride, it was palpable and unreproduceable in photographs or movies. For a country that loves its soccer team so much and just lvoes the game so much, this victory is a beginning of a dream, a final against either France or Portugal depending on tonight's outcome. It truly is an experience, I couldn't be here at a better time. I've been utterly transported. Yesterday I may have asked Where am I? but now I cannot deny, as I wear red underpants, white pants and a green tshirt along with tricolour hair elastics, that I am in Italy.