Unbelievable. How to explain it? It's more than just football. (Which is saying something, because that was amazing football, a virtuosic display of skill and determination*—and, as has been the case all season long, bizarre good luck—a knock-down drag-out nail-biter like I can't remember. Dem palpitations about killed me.) New Orleans has waited a long time for this (forty-three years, if you're counting), a city that has sometimes felt like it fell to the wrong side of history, that's taken its hits of late; and for decades, we had the football team to match, more hard luck than good luck, deeply loved but not always easy to love.
So when that football went through those uprights,** it's hard to describe how it felt, but it felt plenty well deserved. (I won't deny, I cried a little.) My only regret is that my grandfather isn't here to be a part of it. A die-hard from the get-go who stood by the Saints for all the dark years, he'd be tickled pink right now.
As we drove home from our friends' house after the game, the city was wild, an ecstatic jubilant communal frenzy: honking and shouting and fireworks and (literally) dancing in the streets. I stood out on the corner until some ungodly wee hour, talking with neighbors and strangers, all happily recounting the details (or occasionally quieting to a stunned reverie: "We're going to the Super Bowl..."). Every few minutes, a car would slow, and the driver would lean out the window, and the whodattin' would start all over again. Or the car would stop completely, and the driver would get out and run up and shake everybody's hands and praise the day and laugh and smile and run back to his car and continue on his merry way.
So the city's a little ragged this morning, collectively popping our Tums and Advil and croaking our raspy voices and dragging our sleepy selves to school and work (some of us—the roads looked a little thin during the commute), but we're happy as can be, because the Saints are going to the Super Bowl,*** and win or lose (though of course, they'll win), that's one hell of a beautiful thing.
* Though there was plenty of crazy freakish ugliness too.
** And Lord, what a beast of a kick. It looked like it could have kept going for another twenty yards. I'm so glad Hartley redeemed himself. He had to be the most nervous person on the planet before the kick and one of the happiest after.
*** During the first big Mardi Gras weekend, no less. This town is going to be nut-eeeeeee.