And now the conclusion…
It was a rainy Wednesday in the New Haven area. Joe and I had just completed a reporting day. What had started in the morning in Hamden with a visit to the Public Works department had brought us all the way to East Haven. A church that listened to the name St. Clare was our destination.
I still remember the nervous heartbeats of that day. The announcement that I had to take on the challenge of JRN 524 Broadcast Journalism had caused mixed feelings.
I wasn’t particularly keen on exposing myself on camera. And all the clunky equipment establishes a barrier that makes some people shy away.
But I was keen on learning all about shooting video and experimenting with different camera techniques. In addition, I was excited to get to know professional editing software.
Although I saw the negative aspects clearly, I was glad that I had to take the class – I wanted to learn, and I wanted to leave my comfort zone behind. *
Joe: “Can you see anything? The snow bank blocks my sight. I can’t see a thing.”
Me: “Sorry, nothing but a white wall.”
Joe: “Guess, I just have to be extremely careful…”
When we had finally left the church’s parking lot, the pressure of the day began to fade.
Me: “Phew, that was actually exciting and fun. I think I’m gonna like this class much more than I had anticipated. And I find it surprising how open some people are, how willingly they talk to you on camera.”
Joe: “Yes, didn’t I tell you? That woman in the pink sweater? She was amazing. And that guy at Public Works? He wouldn’t wanna stop talking. It’s fun. But I’m more worried about how we are supposed to get Final Cut to work…”
Me: “We are gonna be fine. Trust me, Final Cut won’t be a problem. It’s just a matter of getting used to it. We’ll learn by doing it. I’m actually excited to learn how to operate Final Cut.”
The conversation kept going while Joe steered his car up North – back to Hamden, where Final Cut was waiting.
Joe: “You know what, I’m hungry. Let’s eat something before going to campus.”
Me: “Sure, I haven’t had anything since breakfast. Any idea where and what?”
Joe: “You tell me.”
Me: “Me? I don’t know any places I could recommend…”
Joe: “Wait, I’ve got an idea. You like wings?”
Me: “Like in chicken wings? Sure.”
Joe: “Great, I have just the right place in mind. It’s a chain, which I try to avoid, but they are special.”
Me: “Why is that?”
Joe: “Buffalo Wild Wings. It’s a sports bar with lots of screens and sports events you can watch while eating. And their wings are delicious.”
So we stopped at Buffalo Wild Wings and continued talking about sports.
Earlier that day, Joe did a phenomenal job diverting me from my worries about the upcoming St. Clare blood drive by giving me my first lesson in Baseball 101.
But the oddest thing happened at Buffalo Wild Wings.
I glanced around. Joe hadn’t exaggerated. There were screens all over the place. They were so big that they could divide the screens into quarters and screen four different events simultaneously.
I didn’t notice it at first, but when we had completed our order, I inspected this one screen closer. No way… I knew that the Champions League round of 16 took place today. But I was surprised to find European football screened at such a location.
Me: “Joe, watch. That’s a live match.”
Me: “Top right corner of the screen dead ahead. It’s football, or soccer as you might say. The competition is called Champions League. That’s a tournament where the best national teams from across Europe compete to find Europe’s best team.”
Joe: “Who’s playing?”
Me: “Two good teams. The guys in red are Arsenal London. They are currently on top of the Premier League in England. But I doubt they will stand a chance against Bayern Munich, the guys in the black jerseys. They are en route to the quickest German championship in history. They are fifteen points ahead of Dortmund. Bayern won the Champions League last season – they played Dortmund in the final, which took place in London.”
Joe: “So, Bayern are a good team?”
Me: “Probably the best team in the world at the moment. Won the triplet of Bundesliga league title, national cup, and Champions League last season, and they have just gotten themselves a new coach, Pep Guardiola, who was in high demand before he signed up with them. He won some fourteen titles during his four year stint at Barcelona.”
Joe: “Tell me a bit about what is going on there at the moment.”
Me: “Absolutely, now it’s my turn to make you more familiar with European sports. Well, Bayern will most likely dominate ball possession. 70 percent and above isn’t unusual for their style. What Arsenal have to do is to destroy their game, meaning they focus on their defense and try to keep a clean sheet.”
Joe: “That’s what I heard about soccer. Sometimes they just wait and do nothing.”
Me: “Unfortunately, I have to admit that it’s true. It’s gotten much more common for teams that face a much better opponent to focus on a passive gameplay. It’s frustrating for fans and those better teams alike. Chelsea London won the Champions League in this style two seasons ago. If those defenses work and the active teams aren’t on top of their game, it can get boring. The best thing is if the active team scores early because that means the game has to open up.”
I was cut short by the action on screen. Bayern had just scored for the first time. Talking back and forth about both American and European sports, lunch went by quickly.
I enjoyed the journalistic endeavors of the first half of the day, but I also enjoyed how we took turns in bringing our sports closer to each other’s hearts.
I was on campus when the following text conversation happened last Wednesday.
Joe: “Where will u be around 2 p.m.?”
Me: “Library. Study group questions, blog posts (urgent), first notes for final projects, you name it.”
Joe: “Hahaha me, my mom, Kathy and you are going for lunch and we’re picking you up around 2/215. Then we will bring you back home/to the library.”
Me: “I’ll let you know how it goes.”
Joe: “No choice.”
Joe: “You’re coming with us to New Haven for Pizza.”
Since resistance was futile, I packed up and left my comfortable library chair when I had received the go from Joe. I walked over to the meeting point we had agreed on – the bookstore.
I hadn’t even fully realized who was standing in front of me when I received a big welcome hug from Sherrey, Joe’s mom.
Still surprised me, although I had received similar treatment on my second day in the country when the leasing agent of my apartment complex welcomed me the very same way.
“Nice to meet you. I’ve heard so much about you. Thanks for being such a good friend to my son.” She said quietly.
From then on, it was anything but quiet. Joe’s mom began asking me questions as soon as we had turned around in front of the bookstore. Joe had told me beforehand that I would know where he got his voice from once I had met his mom. But I knew from whom he had his openness and welcoming warmth.
This soothing mixture of curiosity and familiarity marked the ride to New Haven. The closer we came to the Elm City, the more I was ready to leave the study world behind me and enjoy this break.
I felt at home during that lunch. Enjoying my first New Haven-style pizza, I followed the quick exchanges between Kathy and Sherrey and shared some of my own background information in-between.
Sherrey: “Tell me more about your family, Kathy.”
Kathy’s eyes began to sparkle when she began sharing.
Kathy: “Well, I’m married with kids. Frans, my husband, is from England. We have two boys, Justin and Cais.”
Sherrey: “Two boys? How old are they? What are they doing? Where are they? Still at home?”
The conversation stayed afloat for minutes, until Kathy and Sherrey had exchanged all the details. The arrival of two big pizza plates resulted only in a brief pause of the talk.
When we left the restaurant, I realized that two hours had passed since I had left the library. It was a lengthy lunch break, yes, but one that made me feel more comfortable in my new environment.
When I waved goodbye to Kathy in front of the restaurant, I knew that the best is yet to come.
* Disclaimer about dialogue and some details in this post: Not accurate, but that’s how the situations felt for me and how I have them in my memories.