13. Home Is Still Home

In my line of work, there are all kinds of theories about how much people can truly comprehend cultures different from their own. Some of the more renowned theories, the ones that get published, often say that people who are very adept at reading cultural clues are often people who have lived with, and experienced many different cultures in their own lives. That makes sense and I think most of us could come to that conclusion without reading a book about it. Another thing that is often said that’s a bit less obvious, is that the people who have lived in other cultures and who are able to interact at an intercultural level with ease often have trouble identifying one, single place as “home”.

That’s not the case for me. Sometimes I think to myself that this might be a problem since it is literally my job to mediate between cultures. Despite not having lived there for a very long time, Denver is still “home” to me. It is a bit strange given that I don’t feel that I need to live there, and I’ve been comfortable for a long time not living there. It’s just home and that’s that.

If you want to look deeper into my attachment with a place so far away from where I spend most of my time, I think that it probably has something to do with the positive experiences that I associate with that place. I was lucky enough to have wonderful, loving parents and even luckier to have friends with whom I have a very powerful bond.

A part of that bond was undoubtedly formed by watching the Denver Broncos. My parents started taking me to games when I was little. I don’t remember details from my first game, but I do remember so many of them as a child. Watching 76,000 people lose their collective mind can have a very profound effect on a young person’s brain. I lost my own mind at Mile-High Stadium so many times despite the way-below-freezing temperatures. As I got older, I thought that it was so cool to discover that basically all of the people that I knew rooted for the same team. My friends and I shared a passion for the team that represents our city. Of course that’s not the only passion that we shared, but I’ll save other things for another post.

Living outside of Denver, it’s easy to lose contact with certain emotions that are usually connected to home. When I do get a chance to go home, those emotions pop right back up as if they’d been there all the time. When not in Denver, there are still plenty of situations that connect me with home.  People can’t understand fanatical behaviour when it is way out of context and try as you might, it’s hard to explain yourself. This is especially the case living in a place where most people don’t even understand the sport that inspires so many emotions. I’ve had awful experiences watching the Broncos get destroyed in playoffs and even a super bowl while having to answer questions like: Did the other team still score even though they were on defense?; Why does your guy always throw the ball to the other team?; and Is this a normal score for a football game?. I’ve learned to be extremely selective when choosing watching companions.

This past weekend, the stars aligned. Maybe it was actually when I met my wife that the stars aligned. Other than being awesome, she has always understood how much home and my friends from there mean to me. She understands less the obsession for a team that plays an objectively strange sport (all sports and our obsessions for them are objectively strange if you think about it…).   I’ve attempted to convert her to the way of the Broncos, but haven’t quite reached a tipping point.

Anyway, it was my wife, Marianna who learned of my good friends’ plans for a ski-weekend all together in Colorado that coincided with the Super Bowl. She surprised me by contacting my co-workers, organising a few days off of work, buying a plane ticket, and arranging things so that I’d be able to spend a weekend in the mountains of Colorado with friends. What my wife had no clue about was that when she got me the ticket, the Broncos still had a slim chance to get to the Super Bowl. Over three weeks, that chance grew and turned into a dream scenario.

After watching from afar for 13 years, it was almost unthinkable that I would be going home to watch the Broncos in the super bowl with 13 other rabid Bronco fans who are the closest thing to brothers that I have.

It was good times with old friends.  We skied like we were 19-years-old, and felt 100 years-old afterwards. We laughed for 2 days. On our second night up in the mountains, the Broncos won the Super Bowl for the first time in 17 years. Delirium prevailed.

Then, just 4 ½ days after I came to town, I was back on a plane headed for reality. It’s always a little bittersweet to leave, but I know that home will be there, waiting for at least while longer.  A big Thank You to all who make home feel that way.

As a kid it hadn’t really crossed my mind that I could one day live another life in another country. That in itself is pretty amazing.  Never in my wildest dreams did it ever cross my mind that I’d return from that life in another country to watch my team win it all with my friends. Grazie Marianna, ti amo!

Here’s a video of some footage that I compiled during the weekend. It’s not my best work, but honestly, I was concentrating more on having fun than filming. I hope that you still enjoy…

(Music – Townes Van Zandt – My Proud Mountains)

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