For me, loving the Sabres is inexorably connected to my relationship with Buffalo. I needed to find a way to love Buffalo, and so I started loving the Sabres. Obviously, at this point my love has taken on a life of its own, but it was only a few months ago when I thought of a good hockey team as nothing more than a surprising perk of living in WNY.
If free agency and the following city-wide outrage taught me anything, it’s that I need to create a little bit of a safety-zone surrounding my Sabres fandom. If loving the Sabres is always connected to how I love Buffalo (and vice versa) I will be driven slowly insane. I can’t take it personally every time a free agent leaves town, or it won’t be long before I am nodding my head in agreement with Bucky Gleason. (Ew.)
I suspect that I will continue to circle around this issue for quite some time before I make my peace with it, but today I am feeling nostalgic for the carefree days of my very earliest fandom, when the Sabres were helping me settle into Buffalo for the first time in six years.
The following originally appeared on Oh For Fun, on May 14th, 2007:
I am in the midst of an absolute communion with the city of Buffalo.
Over the last few weeks, there has been a mounting excitement/anxiety that has effected every man, woman, and child in Buffalo. Everyone is talking about the Sabres. E-V-E-R-Y-O-N-E. We are obsessed, and we are desperate.
And now, once again, thanks to a faltering sports team, poor little Buffalo is struggling with a collective depression that you can literally feel in the air. Remember, this is a town which suffered four Super Bowl losses in a row in the early 90′s. The Sabres are down two games to none, and an old familiar sadness has settled over the city.
I need to be more grateful for my life in Buffalo. Regardless of whatever else Buffalo is, it is my home, and I am happy here. I have wonderful friends and a great job. There is nothing more beautiful than a Buffalo springtime. The buildings here are gorgeous, even though many of them need a little TLC. This is a friendly town. My very first day in Buffalo was September 11th 2001, and even on that terrible day, I felt the warmth of this city. We are scrappy, we are home-spun, and we are trying our very hardest to pretend the winters aren’t totally hideous.
I believe I ended up in Buffalo for a reason. It’s probably nothing lofty or glamorous, but I am convinced that Buffalo has something to teach me, something very important and valuable. Over the last few days I have been identifying with this city in a way that I haven’t done in six years. I can feel Buffalo struggling to cast aside its long history of losing, and my heart swells. The Stanley Cup might not be the object of my heart’s desire, but I recognize the feeling. This town is yearning, and so am I. This town is defensive and prideful and tough, and so am I. Just like Buffalo, my biggest problem is my own tattered self image.
So, here I am, bumbling along in a city that seems like a perfect reflection of how I feel. Imperfect, feisty, and reasonably priced (hee). Springtime is finally here. The leaves on the trees are sprouting, covering the branches broken in our October snow storm. The Stanley Cup won’t solve Buffalo’s problems, just like winning another audition won’t solve mine, but still, every spring in Buffalo feels like a miracle of hope.
Maybe this will be our year.