Wanderlust: Expat Life & Style in Thailand The Relationships Issue - Page 68

Lifestyle

At that moment , a dark thought entered my mind : I didn ’ t want my team to win . all ? Separated by thousands of miles from our hometowns and all the cultural connections they contained , we were together but alone — she alone in victory , I alone in defeat .
As I sat there in the dim , chlorine-scented bar , I couldn ’ t shake the feeling of schadenfreude — some kind of malicious joy at Kristin ’ s suffering . In fact , I was smug about the way it all ended . The Indians had done exactly what I expected them to do : lose . I hadn ’ t missed some grand cosmic realignment and everything seemed strangely right with the sports world .
But as the game ended , it struck me :
Truly loving someone means never wishing failure on that person and always rooting for his or her success — even if you aren ’ t a part of it . It also means that there ’ s someone on the other side doing the same for you , wishing you the best and standing in support , across the mass of miles . With a heavy heart , I realized that my relationship with sports from afar was overwhelmingly one-sided . Perhaps it wasn ’ t even true love after all .
I think that , in the end , it was exactly what I thought it was when I began all this : just a fling , something you remember with vague fondness years later , like the taste of boardwalk cotton candy or the first time you take a plane ride .
In America , much more than in Asia , sports are utterly wrapped up in the notion of a specific place — about the character that a place infuses into its teams and the gifts that teams give their communities . Absent a community , at least for the moment , I was struggling to connect my love for the games with that feeling I had on my grandmother ’ s carpet all those years ago .
But I couldn ’ t . And I suppose I shouldn ’ t .
At that moment , in the middle of a Bangkok bar far from where I come from , I realized that sports are fundamentally about the people you care about and the places you call home . Alone , far away , I wept — just like my 8-year-old self at Grandma ’ s .
They say there ’ s no crying in baseball . And , if you ask me , there ’ s no love , either . There are only fleeting moments of defeat and victory , accompanied by profound pain or immeasurable joy — moments best spent at home with Uncle Jeff .
It was okay to lose , I decided . This time .
JIMMY ’ S TIPS FOR A LONG- DISTANCE “ SPORTS MARRIAGE ”
The timezone difference means you ’ ll be up early to watch American sports from Thailand . Unfortunately , Bangkok ’ s morning bar scene is abysmal : Everyone who isn ’ t passed out drunk at the counter from the previous night is wishing they were anywhere else . Then there ’ s the smell of sterilization that mixes poorly with powdered eggs and weak coffee … You get my point .
But you can stay connected from the comfort of your own home . Major League Baseball has one of the world ’ s best mobile live streaming services . ( It ’ s so famous and fast that HBO hired baseball ’ s secret tech team to build their HBO Now streaming platform .) For mobile devices , try the ESPNwatch app . You need a cable account to log in — I use Uncle Jeff ’ s username and password .
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