Ladies and gentlemen, let it be known that in my small little world, a great light has begun to shine forth. It comes around once a year, and for reasons that are too complex to fully understand, it is one of the few things that I can say with complete and utter certainty contributes to conjuring up pure and vibrant joy in my life.
It's called College Football season.
I love it, and have for as long as I can remember. Some of my favorite memories include Saturdays- pre-game talk radio, chili on the stove, leaves crunching outside the door, and my dad and I, anxiously awaiting ESPN's College Game Day. I spent a large portion of my childhood residing in the great state of Nebraska, and say what you will, we LOVE our football. There's a unique camaraderie that comes with only having one great thing to root for and celebrate in an entire state, and for us, it comes around every fall, in the form of red and white. Game days bring about a spirit that is almost palpable. The red flags come out, the stores shut down, and I swear, no matter where you are in the state, if you listen hard enough, you can almost hear the murmur or Memorial Stadium.
Anyhow, I say all of this because I can feel it beginning to churn. Autumn is almost here. Game days are almost here. And that means one of the few things that has always remained consistent in my life is almost here. And these days, I'm counting on these small consistencies. In fact, I'm banking on them. As silly as it may sound, I love knowing that no matter where I am, who I'm with, or how old I may be, that when I hear this song, I'll be transported back to a different place and time. I'll remember sitting on the living room floor with my knees to my chest, my dad shouting at the t.v all the while gently explaining the intricacies of the game to me. I'll remember the smell of chili cooking on the stove and listening to the local radio announce the game during commercial breaks on the t.v. telecast. (My dad never did like commercial breaks.) And then I'll remember what it felt like, in those moments, to participate in something that was bigger than myself. I loved it. I loved the rush. And no matter where I am today, I still do.
And so, this is why, nine years and a different alma mater later, I'm still eagerly awaiting crunching leaves, crackling football talk radio, and Saturday afternoons. This is why I still get nervous before the kick off and angry when I hear people trash talking those "corn-fed country boys."
After all, you can't fight what's in your blood.