The first one of us is the oldest.
He's old enough to remember the Seattle Pilots and Sick's Stadium. His coaching heroes are Marv Harshman, Lenny Wilkens, Don James, Chuck Knox.
He remembers the Sonics. The Wilkens SuperSonics, with Downtown and Dennis and Gus and Jack, like it was yesterday. He was a young man then. It's possible he pulled his son out of school to attend the parade. The last parade.
He remembers, but the reality is, that was way too long ago. That was before the eighties, before computers and the internet and stupidphones. And now the eighties, which were once the future, have come and gone once, then come and gone again in a retro echo.
Super Bowl Sunday arrives and he's accepted the possibility of a loss. If he's honest with himself, he's accepted the possibility he might never witness another Seattle team bring the hardware home. (The Sounders? Please. That's not a real sport, or a real league.)
It's been 35 years since the last title. If it's going to be 35 years until the next one, he might die -- he might die! -- before then. Holy God, he might die before one of these sorry-ass franchises gets its hands on a trophy.
Over the years, he'd allowed himself to believe the M's had something special with Junior, Edgar, Randy and the rest of the guys. Oh yeah, and Buhner, for whom he always had a soft spot. But history conspired time and again to deny the ultimate prize to those lovable teams full of future Hall of Famers.
Disappointments had kept piling up. By the time the Steelers had finished off the Seahawks that one day, he'd convinced himself that just reaching the Big Game was an achievement worth celebrating. He'd obviously been lying to himself, but what other recourse was there?
So while the fourth quarter snails ahead on Sunday, you can catch him staring across the room. Not in a bad way, not at all. You can read it on his face: Is this even happening? He looks at his seven grandchildren, rumpusing all over the living room; he takes it all in.
When at last, Seahawk after Seahawk hoists the Lombardi Trophy amid a quite surreal blizzard of blue and green confetti, he is filled with the certainty that the curse is broken, that his family will not have to wait another 35 years for the next one.
He is not just relieved. He is happy.
The second of us is the youngest.
She is eight. She's only loved the Seahawks for two seasons. She might listen politely, with uncharacteristic patience, when her father or her grandmother educate her about the Hawks' checkered history. But she doesn't have any context in which to place this team. To her, XL is an abstraction, or the size on her dad's number 51 jersey. Daddy, Tatupu is a funny name.
The Sounders have always existed, and they have always been popular, and they've always made the playoffs, and it's fun when she and her brother get to stand and sing with 38,000 other voices.
To her, 116 is just the number that comes after 115.
Hers is a blessed innocent fandom. The teams in the CLink punish their foes nine out of ten times. Russell Wilson was, is and always will be the flawless quarterback of the powerhouse Seattle Seahawks. His losses are far apart, and he gets to kiss the Lombardi every other year.
She watched Felix pitch once, on a hot day. He was good; the crowd was a golden shade of interesting, buzzing with energy. She doesn't remember who won because that's not important at baseball games; it remains a warm memory nonetheless.
On a removable hard drive somewhere in her home, there's a video of her, age three, jumping around the living room, squealing "RO!" right on cue, following the repeated "I-CHI" chants from her mother. The camera shakes because her father is giggling. But she doesn't remember that day.
She has yet to discover basketball. Hockey is something they play in Canada or in her cousins' city back East.
She'll never have to grow up title-less. Does that truly make her the most fortunate among us?
The third of us is the one who continually finds his glass half-empty.
Sunday, he cheered.
But today, he's thinking, "There's no way the Hawks can keep all this talent."
Tomorrow, he'll call sports radio to complain, "Cano? Please. Same old M's. Looking at 72-90 again."
Next week, he'll hear NHL relocation rumors and mumble, "League in turmoil, don't need that, don't want that."
Next month, he'll overreact to a Sounders loss with "I told you they weren't championship material. Fire Sigi already."
Next year, he'll lose whatever NBA patience remains, and post somewhere: "Chris Hansen's a failure."
It's hard to help him. If we pester him, he fights back. If we leave him alone, there is a chance he'll pull out of it. Failing that, we can hope he just fades into the background noise.
The fourth of us is the vindicated.
He's about my age, maybe yours too. He could be in his thirties or forties. It doesn't matter all that much. What matters is he didn't own the 1979 Sonics -- or to be more precise, they didn't own him.
As of Saturday, he didn't have a championship to cherish. Instead, his city had the wrong kind of title: Most Cursed Sports Town.
His dad, who grew up elsewhere, often raved about his Celtics, or maybe Tom Landry's presence, or maybe even the great Montreal Canadiens dynasty. There were always championships in those stories, either as highlights or subtext.
Through no fault of his own, the not-yet-vindicated one of us found futility. He got stuck rooting for more than a few terrible Seahawks teams. Then he endured the myriad playoff misfortunes of the Sonics and Mariners, who always seemed to overachieve in the regular season, only to melt down when it mattered most.
He couldn't even claim the Huskies' disputed national title: not his school.
Oh but then, the 2005 Seahawks happened. While every other sports franchise in Seattle crumbled, the Hawks rumbled their way through the NFC. They drew an innocuous-looking opponent in the Super Bowl. He dared to hope -- until sixty confusing minutes of football-like substance wounded him deeper than ever before.
2008 numbed what was left to numb.
Still, every so often, he picked at the XL scab. His wife told him not to. Yeah, right.
Then it clicked. A team made a down payment on him. It grabbed him with its life, its personality, its drive, its want-to. He hugged back. He invested himself, they paid him with a satsifying playoff win, an agonizing loss, and the familiar scent of hope. Only the hope felt authentic this time around.
That unforgettable team delivered a championship on Sunday, February 2, 2014, at 6:55 in the evening, Pacific time. He'll remember that day as long as he lives.
He felt pride, relief, joy. He found community. He found a sh*t-eating grin that won't let up. He found vindication.
Photo Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports; Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports