France vs. Mexico: “It’s Over But It’s Not Over”

That’s a shot of Mexico City’s famous El Angel sculpture (well, the base). I took it on a tranquil Sunday morning. Here’s what it looked like on Thursday after the Mexico vs. France game concluded.

Traffic stopped. People flooded the streets. The “Mexican flag-shake” became the dance move of the day. News crews waded through the crowds, searching for groups broken out into collective song.

I live about fifteen minutes walking from El Angel, but unfortunately, I wasn’t nearby. So I didn’t go. Nevertheless, I saw the shots, and as I was strolling home a few hours later, the air still felt electric. People hung out of their cars waving the Mexican flag. Beeping drowned out the usual pitter-patter. People made out in public, slightly more than they normally do (which is to say a lot.) The entire country was in love with itself.

Even a day later, I randomly looked up at an apartment building to see a little boy waving the red, white, and green Mexican flag. That was around 7 p.m., Friday.

Somewhere between seeing my eight-thousandth green, Mexican futbol jersey of the day and the incessant honking, it dawned on me: this felt oddly familiar.

I racked my brain for moments of collective, national jubilation.

Ah yes: Nov. 4, 2008.

Every time Mexico wins a World Cup soccer game, it’s like America elected a black president.

The only other time I’ve witnessed joy this fervent was the night Barack Obama won the presidency. The response was pretty similar: a spontaneous rush of people, energy, patriotism. The spontaneous obstruction of buses and cars. I’m told Mexico doesn’t always respond like this to a World Cup win. The whole inundation was a bit extreme. Nevertheless, I don’t doubt that people will do it again, if the team keeps winning.

In moments like these,  it’s over but it’s not over, as my former colleague wrote. And even now, a few days later, the entire country still feels like it’s on a  high.

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