Somewhere in the past few weeks of the 2014 World Cup, I became a sports fan.
Or actually, let's not take it that far. I became a fan of U.S. soccer.
But let's go back a little bit first. It should be said that I've never been a sports fan. Like, at all.
My sister played soccer for my entire childhood, so weekend evenings after school were spent at her practices, more or less hanging out with my mom in her navy Saab while my sister gathered all of the Georgia mud she possibly could on her cleats before joining us in the car for what would feel like a very long drive home would hopefully include a trip to Dairy Queen.
Saturday mornings were for away games, where I spent quality time with my Skip-It or picked bark off a tree in some misty, rural Georgia field. Coincidentally, misty, rural Georgia fields happen to be exactly where my disinterest in sports began.
This lack of interest extended into teenage life, where I cared much more about what I was wearing to the Friday night football game than who won or even actually played. And further into college, I was known to bring a stack of fashion magazines to baseball games. Whatever.
So imagine my surprise when the U.S. soccer team grabbed my attention during their first game in the 2014 World Cup. It probably happened right around the time ol' Clint Dempsey scored a goal in the first, like, 2 seconds of the game that I decided it could be interesting.
Suddenly the sport that the rest of the world was obsessed with – especially England, the country I'm currently calling home – was something that the U.S. could do, too. And maybe, just maybe, do well.
I should also add that patriotism has struck me – hard – since becoming an expat. I've always been proud to be American, as the song goes, but have never been the red, white, and blue-wearing, 4th of July-obsessed type. That is, until I became an expat and discovered just how much I love my country and it's quirks. Distance will do that for you.
So this past Tuesday night, cheering on my beloved home country in my adopted country of England, eating a very American meal of pizza (homemade with arugula, thank you) and drinking a giant goddamn Budweiser, I was super proud to be an American, and proud to be a sports fan.
Or at least a soccer fan. A World Cup 2014 U.S. soccer fan.
I'm keeping the magazines in my bag, just in case.
Happy Fourth of July, folks!