Eighteen thousand odd people, all in the same place, at the same time, watching everything unfolding in an oval shape before them in the surprisingly warm ice rink. Eighteen. Thousand. Were this arena to go up in a puff of smoke, this number of human beings gathered together of their own free will, greater than the population of some small countries, would be gone – an island of connections “Lost”, each coming from their own city-state.
I can lose myself in a gathering of this size and enjoy the spectacle unfolding. No one requires anything of me: they’re transfixed by something without – something entertaining that inspires passions, emotions, happiness and, for some, sadness. It’s like being in an airport, inhabiting this bubble of unabashed emotion. The man next to me yells his support of the team, not realizing how ridiculous he would sound in any other setting. Here, his near feminine screams deafening the left side of my body are all part of what you are “supposed” to do.
I’ve never done what you are “supposed” to do because it’s easier for me to curl deep inside and shoulder my way through crowds that sport any emotion. People forget that they can exhale feelings, so it seems, and places hold the dense misty cloud of fears, hopes and tragedies more than anyone realizes. Offices are the worst. Being in an inescapable grey-walled prison made me forget that fog was not a permanent state of life – people bring to work what they can’t leave at home, and let their unexplored feelings and suffering burst forth in sprayed saliva droplets as they yell, cajole or drop pinching, biting words into innocent commentaries. I always needed to take a shower when I got home from the office because their emotional diseases clung to my skin, clothes and hair like slime. It made sense to me why I was always sick, even though no one else properly understood.
Despite the heaviness of so many bodies in a space, these eighteen thousand people don’t spew invisible personal vitriol into the air. They have a lightness, a buoyancy and an inhibition sometimes exacerbated slightly by alcohol. But it’s all part of the process: harmless and uncomplicated. They recline in uncomfortable stadium seating, think of the moment only, and access a brightness within, that the hand I clasp next to mine allowed me to discover, without the fire and catalyst of a sporting event. Many of this eighteen thousand are not so fortunate – yet maybe they are, in their worlds, for they are part of this crucible which will result in nothing more than a collective sigh of relief and the satisfaction of an afternoon well spent. Their experience might be simple, and oft unnoticed, but I don’t need to shower and scour when I leave here: a priceless sensation that even exorbitant ticket prices cannot justify.