|The ticket in|
When we did get to Milan it was about 7:20 pm, and the sun was starting to set. The weather was match-perfect, and we headed to the subway to make our way to the stadium. Coming out at the station closest to the San Siro, hawkers circled us, vainly trying to sell us fake Milan merchandise. By this time I was so determined to get to the stadium that they could have been trying to hack me down with chainsaws, and it wouldn’t have mattered—I would have still arrived, limbless but triumphant.
We got on the stadium shuttle bus finally, and I was surrounded by kindred spirits: men and women
|The magnificent San Siro at dusk|
And then it came upon us. We didn’t come upon it. No, it almost rolled onto us: the 80,000-seater Stadio San Siro. As I alighted from the bus, barely conscious of the crowd and my friend around me, the San Siro forced me to reckon with it, to come to terms with its monstrous totality. It wasn’t just that it stood poised like a huge castle in the distance that it looked so awesome, but also because so many memories I had of football were staged here. Yet, those memories in some ways had also been caged by the various dimensions of the various television sets I could watch them on over the years. Now, these memories were unleashed, as I made my way towards my imagination’s great amphitheatre.
To pick up my tickets, I met my contact in a small booth near the turnstiles. He turned up in all the right ways: on time, impeccably bronzed and coiffured, and impossibly ageless in the way that some Italians are. Luckily, he also had our tickets.
Making my way into the stadium, I felt like a child in a whale’s belly. There is no way around its sublimity: even if you see it in glimpses, the San Siro is arrogantly enormous. As I took my seat right before kick-off, a soft breeze carried the fans’ song from one corner of the stadium to the other, making willing participants of us all. With my frenetic heartbeat still unrelenting, I started to realize what I had finally accomplished: I was at the San Siro, sitting on the nearly best seat possible, supporting my beloved club in the flesh. That Milan won 1-0 through a well-taken Riccardo Montolivo goal was only just a detail by the end of the night.