12.02.2013

What the Iron Bowl Meant to Me

I went for a walk at halftime. A walk I was forcing myself to take around the yard. I had been taking walks like that on purpose in recent weeks - the kind I didn't feel like taking at all but I made myself anyway.

To clear my head. To restore some sense of normalcy. To reduce depression, maybe.

It had been a 4-month long struggle for me. Vertigo, dizziness, medical tests, specialists, no real answers. Just misery and medications and reactions to them that had sent me into a tailspin of more dizziness and fear and despair. A downward spiral that left me at my lowest point - hanging on to faith like a piece of driftwood in the ocean.

My Auburn Tigers were playing the Alabama Crimson Tide. The Comeback Kids versus the Reigning Kings of Everything. I was thinking about the tigers during my halftime walk in the yard that day. While they were in the locker room at Jordan-Hare Stadium, down however many points they were down at halftime, looking at a hill to climb, I was tromping around in circles in the November leaves, contemplating my own deficits, my own trials. I was lifting up mine eyes to the hills, and they looked way bigger than an Alabama lineman. I think I would have rather faced one of them on the gridiron than to feel like this.

Oh, don't be silly, I told myself. Don't compare your problem to football. To this game. Because if you do, then the other team may win and then you'll be even more discouraged not just because of the loss but because your analogy burned you. Alabama is supposed to win anyway. Everybody already knows.

But what if they don't?

What if underdog Auburn pulls this off somehow? What would that mean to the world? Or for that matter - to me? A toppled dynasty. A fulfilled destiny. Oh, how I needed inspiration - a visual picture of the status quo giving way to something new and beautiful. Unlikely? Yes. Impossible? Maybe. But it is in unlikelihood and impossibility that the greatest triumphs are forged.

The clock was ticking down in the 4th quarter. Overtime seemed an inevitability. Please, no. No overtime. At that moment, the collective stomach acid of everyone in the state of Alabama could power a nuclear plant.

And then it happened. The last second play that must be the greatest play ever in the history of all sports since the beginning of time. Alabama's field goal was short, and there was Auburn's Chris Davis, waiting for that ball in the end zone with open arms, running the length of the field, past all the big lunkers on the field who couldn't catch him, into the end zone for a glorious, unexpected, redemptive, inspiring, undeniable winning touchdown.

I screamed and yelled and cried a little bit. And I don't cry at sporting events.

Not just because my team won. But because they were the underdogs, the ones who had the bigger hill to climb, like me. The ones who had suffered many months the previous year of lost games and despair. The ones who faced a seemingly impenetrable wall and scaled it. The ones who believed.

Well, you see, that's me.

I am the girl who is going to catch that ball and run it back.

I am the girl who is not giving up the face of imposing opposition.

I am the girl who believes.

As the Auburn nation can now testify, that's no small thing.

War Eagle.


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