I sat down on the doctors table, looking down at my legs dangling off the side. I wondered if I should press the button on the side to lower the table or just let them dangle.
I let them dangle.
Emma, the nurse, walked in and sat down at her computer.
She had dark skin and a round face. Her accent didn’t give her away, aside from the fact that she was maybe born somewhere else and moved here years ago.
“Nice to meet you, Tiffany, how are you feeling today?”
“Just some pain in my left knee.”
“Okay and how long have you had this?”
“Two days this time. But it’s been going on for a year.”
“And what is your occupation?”
“Soccer player? Really?”
I smiled and looked up from my dangling feet.
I was just surprised. Not that soccer fans have a look or a vibe. I was just in a doctor’s office and didn’t expect it. Usually people humor the fact that I’m a professional athlete. I see the look in their eyes, the look that says:
But she’s a woman, so??
Not from Emma. Emma looked at me, wide-eyed. She started shaking her head, smiling while she was putting my information in the computer.
“Do you like soccer?” I asked.
“I love soccer.”
Woah. She loves soccer, I thought to myself. All of a sudden, my dangling feet didn’t matter. I didn’t even know why I was in that room.
I looked at her while she continued looking at the computer. I had a million questions but knew our time was limited.
“Where are you from?” I asked.
Ethiopia. Now I can place her accent.
She shook her head again. Smiling.
"You're here to get the cyst drained, correct."
Ahh. That's why I'm here. This damn cyst. I know how the process goes. Numb the area on the back of my knee. Stick the needle in and get all that goo out. I hope I don't feel it this time.
“Soccer is beautiful. Soccer is art," she blurted out.
I looked at my arms and saw goosebumps.
YES, I KNOW. I know soccer is beautiful. I know soccer is art. And I love when people say it out loud like that. Unprompted.
She was smiling still. Shaking her head.
She just kept saying: “It is art. Soccer is art."
We continued talking about soccer. I pulled out my phone and showed her the goals from the Russia vs. Saudi Arabia game. She didn’t know the game was earlier in the day.
She threw her head back, smiling and shaking her head again at one of Denis Cheryshev's goals.
She kept shaking her head. When I shake my head, sometimes it’s from a lack of being able to find adequate words to describe something.
I felt that Emma could not describe the art she was referring to. But she didn’t have to. I understood.
We talked about how she would play with her kids and how they would tell her to stop because she was embarrassing them. She said she just loved playing. I was glad my mom never tried.
“It is a lot of running though.” I said.
“No. It is just art.”
She was so insistent. She was so sure of it, incredibly sure of it.
And she was so right. The game is art. It’s a thing of beauty. And it’s easy to get caught up in the numbers and the distances and the final score and the table and everything that surrounds the game.
But at it’s very core, it’s a creation. It’s art.
Emma hadn’t heard of the Washington Spirit before today. But quickly became a fan and thought it was cool that I played soccer. I mean yeah it is. But it's only cool if we can appreciate it for what it truly is.
As I limped out of the doctor's office on a sunny day in Maryland, squinting from the brightness of the sun, I found myself shaking my head. Emma gave me a much needed reminder that the even though the World Cup is the most popular "event" in the world, it's still just the game..the most incredible game in the world, at its purest and finest.
"It is art."