For millions of millennials, Mother’s Day marks an annual May migration to full fridges and landscaped lawns; to garages packed with beat-up bicycles and living rooms lined with embarrassing photos; and, of course, to familiar bedrooms crammed with childhood collectibles, objects useless and almost-forgotten but, upon consideration, far too special to discard.
Here in New York, the routine is familiar. Tens of thousands of us fill the Metro-North terminal at Grand Central or the NJ Transit and LIRR lobbies in Penn Station and await our train’s track assignment. We rush through the narrow stairways and scramble onto the train cars. And, after 45 to 103 minutes spent dodging former high school classmates in the next car over, we arrive safely at our parents’ idling cars in a suburban station parking lot. Later, after we lay on the couch embracing our parents’ amazing cable packages, we retire to our old bedrooms, long since converted to cardio gyms, art studios, home offices, guest rooms and/or storage facilities.
Right before hitting the hay, we’ll open our old closets, just to see what’s in there. But, once captivated by nostalgia, we turn our quick peeks into an archeological digs as we sift through the debris in search of some quirky snapback, throwback poster or old nylon jacket that has achieved renewed coolness.
And for Tri-Staters like me who came of age alongside the MLS, our excavations just might reveal the MetroStars memorabilia motherlode — t-shirts with taxi cabs, the red-and-black striped Mathis jerseys, even the old Mitre balls, all somehow signed by players who attended our holiday tournaments to publicize the league.
Over the course of two decades, we’ve gone from getting free tickets from our local soccer clubs and watching hockey-style shootouts in Giants Stadium to getting drunk in Harrison’s gravel parking lot — before the condos went up around the PATH — and watching Thierry Henry in Red Bull Arena.
We’ve been with the club since Day One. And we have the Tab Ramos autographs to prove it.
I’m inspired to write this by my family’s own recent trip down Metros Memory Lane. On Sunday afternoon, my mom, brother and I dug through my brother’s closet and hit the MetroStars/Red Bulls jackpot: A ball signed by most of the 2002 Metros squad; a poster commemorating Bradley Wright-Phillips’ record-setting 2014 season; and two Spanish-language Nestle posters featuring Tim Howard, Clint Mathis and Tab Ramos, a man who has signed more prints than Peter Max.
I’d love to learn about your best piece of MetroStars memorabilia. Email me a photo and I’ll post it here (firstname.lastname@example.org) or submit your favorites in the comments.