My father-in-law, across the couch, is arguing (sans logic and merit) that Atlanta should have tried a fake field goal. My dad, who has never watched a full football game, is trying to grasp the overtime rules (in his defense, so are 87.5% of Americans between the ages of 2 and 106).
My mom -- who wouldn't recognize Tom Brady
were he wearing an "I AM TOM BRADY" T-shirt -- is reading the New York Times. My wife is simultaneously cooking lasagna and scowling at Bill Belichick. My dog Norma is on my lap.
And I am as happy as I've been in weeks.
To be clear, everything about our nation seems to horrify me right now. From the Muslim ban (and it is a Muslim ban) to the irrational tweets to the eroding of environmental protections to the about-to-be-confirmed education secretary (who, it seems, has never entered a public school), I devote the vast majority of my hours to screaming, panting, cursing, pacing and hitting REFRESH on the ol' web browser.
Yes, I am furious. But, more than anything, I'm exhausted.
So here I sit, a glass of Coca-Cola to my left, some nacho chips to my right. My family is together, watching a game that, three hours ago, we all agreed we didn't particularly care about.
The Patriots are taking this thing into overtime, and suddenly, the conversation has shifted entirely to football. Is Tom Brady the greatest of all time? Does this damage Matt Ryan's legacy? Did the Falcons coaches blow it? Are we witnessing the greatest of all Super Bowls? Is Mark Gastineau still playing? (That last one was from Mom).
It's as if, with this one spectacular matchup, the nastiness of living in the US right now has drifted into the background, and our focus is on something -- Belichick and Brady's Trump leanings be damned -- genuinely apolitical.
That, truly, is a beautiful thing. But, more importantly, it's a necessary thing. Over the course of the past few years, we've allowed ourselves to focus primarily on our differences. You're either pro-choice or pro-life; pro-gay marriage or anti-gay marriage; pro-Trump or anti-Trump.
The hate is palpable. It's as if we're all constantly itching for a fight. Part of this can be chalked up to our leaders, who have turned to fear mongering as the ultimate wedge. But the biggest blame falls upon us. There is so much joy and beauty and excitement in the world, and it can -- and should -- be embraced.
For me, it's what I'll remember about Super Bowl LI.
Not the score.
Not the comeback.
Not the history.
Simply that, on a Sunday afternoon when our nation seemed lost, I felt momentarily found.