Shed a Tear With Me

by Rich on December 6, 2013

Confession time… I’m a guy and I cry. Not all the time, mind you, and not loud bawling. It’s not like I make a scene or anything. Usually my tears are mine alone, shed in the private solitude of my Jeep or home, sometimes office. But I do. I cry. Calling it getting misty. Call it tearing up. Call it whatever you like, but if emotions move you to have the glands produce tears, you’re crying. And I cry.

I cried last Saturday. In public. For all the world to see. In front of total strangers. In front of friends and acquaintances. I cried because of a football game. And I am not ashamed.

If you have read my previous post you know what game I am talking about. And the teams involved and why I care. I am a member of the Auburn Family. It’s not a “nation” or “army”, it’s a family. One that shares and fights and laughs and in the end one that loves. And Saturday I cried for joy, not because one football team beat another, but because my family was so happy. Once, when my son was very young, I gave him a birthday gift that he desperately wanted. The gift itself isn’t important, but his reaction to receiving it, and my response to his reaction, are. He was overwhelmed. He had begged for this gift, but already at the early age of 5 new to expect disappointments in life. He wanted, he yearned, he longed…but did not expect. And to see his unabashed joy, his pure, unadulterated pleasure in receiving it and his heartfelt gratitude towards me for providing it…it brought tears to my eyes.

That is why I cried Saturday night. Not because Auburn beat Alabama in one of the greatest football games in history, but because I was a witness to that same pure joy I had seen in my son.

Leaving Jordan-Hare stadium after the game, I paused on the sidewalk and watched those around me. Students skipping and cheering; couples old and young, hand in hand, smiling and laughing; fathers with shaker-wielding children perched on their shoulders. I stood back and just watched all that was taking place around me. The laughing. My Lord, the laughing! It was pure. There was no malice, no schadenfreude (ok, perhaps a tad). It was just…damn HAPPINESS! It was joy! It was release and relief. It was anticipation and acceptance. It was answered prayer and the knowledge that we all had just been a part of something special and spectacular. Something that would transcend us, and therefor include us in its history. Oh to have been in Lake Placid for the Miracle on Ice! To have been in Berlin for the crumbling of The Wall. To have stood on that street in Manhattan on V-E Day and kissed that nurse! And so we were there. We saw it with our own eyes, witnesses to history.

“Come now, Rich. We’re talking about a football game. Let’s not turn to hyperbole.”

Watch that game and get back to me. Go through 3-9 then come talk to me. Watch something you love and care for put through the Big Media Meat Grinder and then lets chat.

I come from a long line of emotional men. My uncle tells me that both he and my father were known to have laughed too loud, yelled to quickly and cried at the drop of a hat.

And so I cried. Right there on the sidewalk outside Jordan-Hare Stadium. And I was not ashamed. I laughed and cried and cheered and yelled and shared that moment with my family and prayed a prayer of thanks. Not that my team had won a game, but that I had seen my family given a gift for witch they had so longed. A gift they deserved and one for which they had suffered.

I thank God for letting me live in a place I love. I do not take it for granted.

Want to see something that will give you chills? Don’t watch videos of the game itself. Watch videos of the fan reactions.

Cry?

You’re damn right I did.

{ 1 comment }

Damn You, Auburn…

by Rich on November 27, 2013

Damn you, Auburn.

Damn you for making me care. Damn you for being irresistible. Damn you for making me fall in love with you. Not your football team, but you. All of you. Your campus, your city, your academics, your history, your townspeople and your culture. Damn you for being as close to perfect as I can imagine.

There are times when I wish that I had attended some generic school. Somewhere to which I had no ties. A school that I could attend, graduate and leave. A school I could follow from a distance with a sense of detachment. But I know that is not who I am. I am my father’s son, and so I have followed in his footsteps, and it has brought me here, to Auburn.

My father passed at the young age of 34 in a car accident that in many ways defines our family. I was not yet 4 yrs old, so my memories of him are fragmented snapshots. I know him primarily through the stories of others. And through the small possessions that have been passed down to me, many of which involve his alma mater, Auburn University. To my young mind, the two became intertwined. I could not and cannot think of one without the other. When I finally made my way to The Loveliest Village on the Plain, there was a bit of trepidation. I had built the idea of Auburn to such a monumental stature that I was certain it could never live up to it.

I was wrong.

Very few things in life live up to their expectations, but Auburn did. Not only that, it surpassed them. I instantly fell in love with the place. Not just the school or the football team, but the Auburn Family. Yes, I know it sounds trite and childish, but it is true. I fell in love with Auburn.

I love that I am as proud of an engineering department that has produced more astronauts and NASA employees than any other single university. I love that I can, and do, boast about the fact that Auburn University consistently ranks in the Forbes top 50 Colleges and Universities. I love Samford Hall lit up at night. I love that sunsets look more beautiful here than any I have seen in my life, and I’ve seen them all over the world. I love that there is no “Town vs Gown” animosity here. I love that Auburn is a choice and not a default. People don’t end up here by accident.

I love it all so much that I didn’t leave. I could have. I have turned down numerous opportunities in larger, more lucrative cities. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t leave. Some of that is because I still feel close to my father here. Some of that is because of my own roots that I have sunk deep into its fertile soil. But for whatever reason, I couldn’t bring myself to leave. It is my home.

All of that makes certain days in the fall both brilliant and painful; glorious and terrifying. I wont make any excuses for the fact that I love watching football. It’s a great game. And, as Auburn is situated in the heart of college football, its most public image and representative is its football team.

Saturday, Auburn will play in the Iron Bowl, its annual gridiron battle with the University of Alabama. I wont go into the details of the rivalry. No doubt if you are reading this, you are fully aware of them. And because this Auburn team is the physical representation of a place, a concept, a culture, a family that I love so much that I have made it my home, I care. I care a lot.

Damn you for making me care, Auburn. It would be so much easier to not care about this game. It would be so much easier to wake up and watch the game and just not care.

But that is not me. I do care. I am passionate in my love for all things Auburn. I know that others don’t get it, or don’t care, or think I am being simple and base. But I don’t care. Some of you do get it. Some of you have experienced your own love affair with places like Athens and Ann Arbor; State College and College Station; Annapolis and West Point; Gainesville, Starkville and, yes, even Tuscaloosa. You understand what I mean.

If I didn’t care, I would not know the pain of a bad season. But I also wouldn’t know what it’s like to walk around campus and around town on a crisp fall day, with electric anticipation in the air. I would never feel the sting of a loss to a bitter rival. But I also would not know the euphoria of an unexpected win. The pains are horrible, and lows, low. But the heart yearns for joy, and no greater joy can be found than the elevation of something you love.

 

And damn you Auburn, I do. I  love you…

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Order Up!

September 22, 2013

After taking the summer off, I’m back. It’s perfect jeep weather, so let’s go for a ride…   Frequent passengers here in the jeep know that I enjoy cooking. Now, I’m not especially talented or professionally trained in this area, but I do enjoy it. I enjoy the process, and I really enjoy presenting the […]

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Less Of A mess

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Allow me to introduce you to the one person who’s invention changed the world forever. No it’s not Steve Jobs or Thomas Edison. It’s not Ben Franklin or Henry Ford. The person who did the most to change the world forever is Arthur Julius. “Well, sure, Rich. Everyone knows Arthur Julius. His invention was…wait. Who?” […]

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The Confessional

February 21, 2013

Sometimes the ride in my jeep is a laugh-riot, sometimes it is an introspective look at the world. Today, the ride is more of a confession. Like many confessions, the confessor is often the last to acknowledge the sin he is confessing, and I am sure this instance is no exception. Most who read this […]

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Sink Or Swim

January 26, 2013

Let’s get one thing very clear right up front: I am not an elite athlete. As a matter of fact, I’m not much of an athlete at all. Just so we’re straight on this issue. Rich is not an athlete. Got it? Good. Now we may proceed. I recently started swimming. For exercise. Please see […]

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Maggie

January 21, 2013

So we have a new dog. Well, not “new” new, but new to us. As you may have read in a previous post, we recently lost our black lab, Haley. It was a hard loss, and we waited almost a month before moving on another dog. Frankly, I wasn’t in a hurry, even though I […]

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Bear (the other one)

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“Schwarzkopf has died. Moment of silence for the bad-ass…” That was the tweet I received from a friend on Thursday. It stopped me in my tracks. It surprised me. You see, I served in the Navy and was deployed during Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm. You may not remember it. It was that CNN special that […]

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Man’s Best Friend

December 4, 2012

Gary was probably never going to be anything other than the assistant warehouse manager at the plumbing supply house where I worked right out of college. But he was a good guy. Liked to drink beer on the weekend, go to NASCAR races and take his kids camping at the lake. Blue collar all the […]

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