Do you remember? Do you remember the first moment you could hear your own heart beating? An equilibrium finding balance upon dueling peaks of ecstasy and terror. The thrill of virgin heights, chemicals surging through your brain, galloping through space grasping for the unknown, a saucer-eyed specimen of excitability and intrigue. The fear as waves of blood cascade through your body, a crashing red sea ready to assume your holy vessel with no call for mercy, the cacophonic reverberation in your ears a requiem for your indifference. This thundering symphony is an affirmation of your very existence, a physiological reconciliation of your presence in this mortal realm, played by an orchestra conducted at the frantic behest of your soul.
Play on, dear maestro. Please do play on.
Maybe you know. Maybe you remember. Maybe it was standing high atop a cliff, jagged protrusions of mother nature beckoning below, echoing your name in chilling silence, a slight of fabric your only god. Maybe it was aside a hospital bed, two hands as one, the soft warmth of one, the hard chill of the other, an unstoppable mercury indicating a slow slip into an eternal solitude. Maybe the letter came and your heart lifted high into your chest as though it'd grown paper wings, ready to defy physics in order to lift you up to the heavens. Maybe, with your lips wrapped around the barrel of the gun, you could taste the afterworld, its flavorful essence so cruelly defined by the salt of your own tears. Maybe you were a child, a protective bubble of innocence leaving you entombed, knowing neither its form nor function. Maybe it was the first time she walked in the room, or maybe it was the first time he said your name. Maybe you repressed it until couples therapy unearthed the toxicity a few decades later. Maybe the drugs were so good, the dragon was chasing you. Maybe it was sadness, or fear, or joy. Maybe.
Maybe you've never heard it.; allow me to offer my sincerest condolences. Or maybe, just maybe, it happens often. Maybe you're cursed with it; afflicted by an endless capacity to care, humanity's emotional burden assumed by an anointed army of one. Fight on, dear soldier. Fight on.
I remember. Suffice it to say, I remember. And I remember wanting it again.
Something happened with this club. I stopped watching. Maybe a year ago, maybe longer. I don't recall because I don't care. Life got in the way, sure. Fewer weekends, more airports. I was busy. I stopped waking up for matches somewhere along the line. I turned off my alarm. I think it was my alarm, anyway; the incessant pings somewhere above me putting a crashing halt to my weary-eyed slumber. I had to use a calendar. A fucking calendar. Christ, am I an adult now? My parents must be so disappointed. On that calendar was "stuff." There were also matches. Thirty-eight and then some. I blocked those off for awhile, but then I began overlapping "events." I began ignoring those yellow blocks. I began put notes in my events. What the fuck happened to me. That should be italicized backwards as to emphasize my befuddlement, as though I'm holding my hair back. Fuck your lack of wit, hyper text. Occasionally I made others wait for me, not knowing they were waiting for Roma, and I canceled a few meetings here and there for the big ones, but it didn't take long for that to end either. Derbies, sure, but life had taken a turn. Eventually I just stopped setting my alarm. Roma was lost to me, and I was lost to it. I didn't care. I simply didn't care. They'd lost me. I'd grown up, but they lost me. I don't root for polyester - no one roots for polyester. I don't root for anyone, for that matter - I fall. I fall for an entity. I fall for an anthropomorphic encapsulation of values. I fall in love. And I had been in love. But I changed. She changed. We grew apart. It happens. She was different and I was different. It just happens. Sadness existing only in the complete absence of it.
But I remember. Oh, how I once loved them.
Falling in love is one of the most terrifying annexes of the human condition. It is to remove one's own heart, watching, gazing as its walls morph into the thinnest of glass, every harrowing beat threatening to shatter this mystic muscle, place it upon a table, and with trembling hands, offer another human being a hammer. Do you understand what courage that takes? Do you? Stand back. Wait. Love. Fear. Live. Ask them to protect it. Trust this entombment of human fallibility to be your guardian. Allow another to become a permanent extension of yourself. Tremble in the culmination of them all. Tremble because it is war with reason, with logic, with everything wise and sensible in this world. It is to know that you incur the wrath of ultimate suffering; to know that if that hammer is swung, every fiber of your being will shatter along with that glass; to know that you may pick up the pieces, but you can never really get them all; to know that inevitably, you will never be truly whole again. It is to dance most dangerously with fate, but it is the most worthy dance of all, because love is the only thing in this mortal world worth both living for and dying for.
And somewhere, someone just handed all of our glass hearts to one Luciano Spalletti...once again.
Surely in a city so rich of lore there exists an epic which this parallels. An easy metaphor. Something grossly cliched. Must be. Something along the lines of.... In a land unknown there exists a temple so high that upon breaking through the clouds, it is still a day's march up through the heavens to the top. Up the crumbling steps stomp the masses, legs weakened, lungs heaving, glass hearts at the ready, their chest cavities a black hole, an abyss into which all is lost. Atop this temple there lies an overturned golden shield, and one by one they will place their glass hearts atop this shield, each still beating to its own rhythm. For days they will march up, and days again back down. When the last follower has departed the very first step, masses circling the base of the temple, one man emerges from the crowd. His black cloak and a torso fully intact indicate he is a man not of the masses, but of the order. He will march the same steps, one by one, just as the others, because many years ago, he had become one of them too. At the summit he too shall reach in and cut out his own heart, the blood coursing just as that of the followers, equal parts red, equal parts yellow, and atop the shield it shall go. Alongside it, he shall offer something more: his legacy. The lore of years past, the romanticism it still elicits, his great sacrifice. Before he begins to walk down those steps, he will not be passed a torch, but handed a giant hammer. Their fate in his hands.
Soon, the hearts beating of countless individuals begin to quiet. Soon, one heartbeat begins to drown out the rest. And soon, they begin to follow suit until every last glass heart beats to the rhythm of his, thundering through the heavens, spurring him on to war. Infinite hearts in a symphonic cadence of one.
Fall to your knees. Pray to your god. Pray to your god because we are at the precipice of the holiest of wars: love. Our hearts once belonged to this entity driven by him, but somewhere along the line he became one of us, and now his sits along with ours atop that giant shield, ready to live in glory or go out on it. But no matter what fate befalls us, we will dance; oh, how we will dance. We will gaze aloft as our dissociated hearts dance with us. Know that you will become intimate with the full spectrum of human emotion. Become your fear embrace in the beauty of living once again, because the maestro plays for us now, just as he played once before.
Win, and we shall dine eternally on ecstasy; win, and the skies will light fires in his name. Lose, and you will suffer boundlessly; lose, and you will never be whole again. But we will have danced. Oh, how we will have danced.
Let the symphony of your own heartbeat echo in your ears. Do you hear it? It is the sound of the greatest gift this world can offer.
This is to fall in love all over again.