I tell myself that it’s possible to love them both equally, even if that also has to include the “but differently” disclaimer. One is familiar, even if it is rarely comfortable. The other is new, exciting, and full of promise. And that just makes me feel all the more guilty.
Years ago, I committed to being a Cleveland Browns fan in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer. I’ve been focused on them for so long now, my feelings for them gilded in the punishing heat of unrelenting disappointment. I know all of their broken promises by heart. I’ve heard the same lies so many times that I can now anticipate those lies before they even tell them.
“They reminded me of the darkest parts of my time following the Browns, and they asked me when the last time was the Browns had really made me feel happy.”
For years, I believed them when they said things would change. Every time they made a grand gesture, promising things would get better and they’d never hurt me again, I bought into it. I greedily gobbled it up, hook, line, and sinker. Eventually, the shocking disappointment and bewildered disbelief fueled a fiery anger. How could they do such things? How could they let it be like this? Didn’t they even care how great it could have been?
Anger takes energy, though, and energy is finite. The surprise wore off. I went numb. I began to expect things to go poorly each time we rounded a new bend, and I was rarely incorrect. To seem less ridiculous to everyone else, I laughed at the many misfortunes, at my own silliness for remaining loyal to them, at the foolhardy notions that they may ever be better.
Finally, I settled in and accepted my future as a Cleveland Browns fan. It was ugly, but it was mine.
I never intended for my new proximity to the Green Bay Packers to change any of that. I was acquainted with them from afar, of course…