Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Narrative essay’ Category

I look at the expanse of targets before me and the diversity of people behind me, wondering how I’m here. I went from shooting with crooked arrows in my grandfather’s old bow to being here, at the New Mexico National Archery Competition. My $1,000 bow is lined up among the bows of the top archers in the nation. Shooting on the line beside me are people from as far away as the east coast and Alaska, even a few from outside the U.S.

I feel honored to be here, shooting not only against, but alongside, the elite. I think back to how I came to be here, the years of practicing as my equipment became more sophisticated and my talent increased. But it all began one day in my grandparents’ basement.

It was dark and musty. The damp smell of the basement was overwhelming. I was treasure hunting, looking behind old stacks of books and crates of rusty tools. I climbed to the top shelf and found a foreign object among the many old fishing rods. Gently, as if I held a priceless gem, I grasped the object and blew off the dust. To most it would have been unrecognizable, for it was unbent and lacking a string. But I knew what I held.

The next day, small twigs crunched under my bare feet despite my light tread. The earthy smell of the pond and the woods assailed my senses. The humid Virginia air was heavy in my chest as I wove among the towering trees, knowing the route by heart. I listened to the sound of the woods that my grandmother so adored, the chirping birds, the rustle of leaves in the light breeze, the sound of the chickens scratching, even the faint trickle of water from the nearby stream. In my hand was the treasure I found in the basement. The object was light, the old black handle fitting perfectly in my small grip.

I arrived at my favorite spot in the woods, a place indistinguishable from any other place by most. I stopped in an alcove set back from the slight clearing and dropped some of the things I had brought between two large hemlocks, a novel and a cup of lemonade, before turning my attention to the object still clutched in my hand.

I looked down at the bow. It was very old and had belonged to my grandfather as a boy. The once dark green fiberglass limbs had become pale feldgrau. The plastic handle was worn smooth from years in my grandfather’s grasp. The string was made from white twine I’d found in the garage that morning. It was an old bow, not particularly well made, but I held it delicately, as if it were delicate.

I withdrew a long, slender arrow from the back pocket of my jeans. It was silver aluminum with red plastic vanes rather than feathers. I placed the arrow on the rest and nocked (notched) it to the string with my index finger above it and my middle and ring fingers below. I could feel the adrenaline coursing through my veins but the woods created a sense of tranquility, allowing me to focus on the bow. I lifted my arm and drew the string smoothly, looking down the badly bent and dented shaft. I relaxed my fingers, allowing the bow to propel the arrow forward into the heart of the stump.

I retrieved another arrow from my pocket, this one green, and nocked it to the string. The bow felt natural in my hands. I once again lifted the bow and drew the string, barely touching the tip of my finger to the corner of my mouth and sighting down the arrow. I loved the feel of the tension in the muscles in my back and of the weight of the bow in my hand. I took a single deep breath, steadying myself, and relaxed my fingers again.

I felt the arrow’s flight and heard it cut through the air, the vanes whistling slightly. I followed its path with my eyes. It flexed slightly as it traveled. I felt the thud as the arrow struck the stump. I had forgotten the novel and the lemonade between the trees and thought only of the bow and of the arrow.

When I am called to the line at nationals, my thoughts turn from the past to the present, to my bow, the arrow and the target. Nothing else exists. I take no notice of the man beside me knocking a new arrow or the child crying behind me. As it did all those years ago in the woods, the world fades to include only myself and my bow. My breathing steadies, my shoulders relax. I draw and sight down the arrow as I have countless times before. The arrow embeds itself in the center of the gold ring. But a single arrow is nothing. I draw again.

Six hundred arrows pass through my bow in this tournament. Only three land outside the gold ring. My shooting is some of the best I’ve ever done, but my best might not cut it. I wait the results anxiously, and they call the top three from each class over the loudspeaker, handing out trophies. I hear my name, “Female compound, first regional, sixth national.”

I pause for a second, stunned, but my mother presses me forward. I walk to the front and smile for the flash of my mother’s camera, shaking the man’s hand and accepting the trophy. I walk back to my place in the crowd, sixth in the nation. Who would have thought an old bow in the basement would lead to this?

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

It was another Friday night at the speakeasy, and my band Back to the Woods was playing. I knocked on the wide oak door, shivering a little as a cold breeze swept though my over-sized wool sweater. The peephole swung open and a very familiar narrow brown eye winked at me. Next thing I knew, I was being beckoned in by Wookie, the Star Wars crazed bouncer who I met a few months earlier. He looked a little like the movie character and was the cherry on top of the staff that worked there.

Max, the bartender, gave me a small head nod as he poured what looked like whiskey into a coffee cup for a man in jeans and a light-blue paisley flannel. There were enough people there that you had to raise your voice over the noise. I spotted my band mates at one of the booths toward the right corner and proceeded to move toward them. I situated myself up against the tall green cushions and plopped my hand upon my bent knee in a salute to relaxation from the hard morning’s work.

The speakeasy made me feel right at home. It was dimly lit with narrow windows near the ceiling. Good wine and whiskeys lined the wood-paneled walls. In front of me sat Jeremy, our saxophone player. He was rambling on and on about his girlfriend’s computer crash and about other band members. To emphasize his point, he nodded his head up every rant with a loud burst followed by a murmur.

I knew he was done when he shrugged his shoulders and tightened his neck like a turtle into its shell and said something like, “So ya, we should do that.” Being the only one with good fashion sense, I could see that the men in our group were extremely dressed up for the occasion.

Tonight, Jeremy wore his out-of-date brown skate shoes that were tied so tight that they had lost their fluff. He had on a collared shirt with the leather jacket he had found abandoned on the side of the street one night, and I could tell he had tried to find the cleanest pair of pants he owned. He would have succeeded too, but he got so excited about eating his pizza that a piece plopped straight onto his freshly laundered khakis.

Almost immediately, Cam burst into laughter. He was always smiling. His dimples made him look almost innocent, and he knew how to work it to his advantage. This is probably why he appointed himself as the official band manager/spoons player of our group. He could walk the walk and talk the talk like any good businessman. He was hard to read, but I had come accustomed to his expressions. He had a square face and always dressed in the highest of sophisticated casual coffee house attire. His hands were black from a days worth of drawing. When he spoke he waved his hands back and forth as if he was a big mafia lord with a cigar in his mouth.

Directly across from Cam sat Matt, who was smacking his mouth every time he took a bite of pizza. It made him look so nonchalant. He was logical and had a way with words. His tall, lanky figure stood out against his bass, and his low-sinking notes matched his low-riding pants. When he played, he swung his long, dirty blond hair over his left eye, as if he were a metal head. Tonight he decided to wear jeans and a white t-shirt with a nice sports jacket.

He looked around the room for something and landed on Nick, giving him the signal that he wanted to start the first set. Nick was the newest member of the band. I had found him at a jam party I was invited to. I was still learning my banjo chords at the time, and he had just picked up the mandolin. I didn’t play a lot of bluegrass, but when he heard me sing he was down to jam. He was the only one of the group of age to drink and was sitting at the bar now, sipping on a beer. His ultra-hippie style sprung out at you, and you could feel the confidence radiating off him. He had spindly dreaded hair that came to his shoulders and sometimes wore a head band to keep it out of his face. He wore Merrell shoes, and his pants were flared.

At first glance I thought he was a druggy, but when he spoke you realized immediately that he was a thinker. His expressions and the way he moved were passionate. He loved his life and his opinions and wanted to share with anyone who would listen. When he finished his beer, he gave max a tip and signaled back that he was ready. Everyone moved at once. I went to go get my banjo and started tuning. The bar had thinned out a bit tonight, but there was still a good crowd. I saw many familiar faces along with some new ones too.

Jeremy did a mike check quickly, while the rest of us figured out what we were going to start with. Jeremy and Nick both looked at me to step up to the microphone. I watched as the crowd simmered down, and suddenly half the audience was waiting to see what we were going to do. Without introduction, we started the slow dragging minor chord into our dirty Louisiana blues. With his eyes closed, Jeremy wooed the crowd with his off-beat swing, and the energy in the room immediately changed. He raised his saxophone in the air stomping his foot to signal the pause.

And there we all stood with every single eye on us. He looked at me, and I stepped up to the microphone. I waited a few seconds till I could hear the ring of silence in the room, my eyes fixated on my banjo the whole time. I looked up and almost whispered the words into the microphone, T’s for Texas, T’s for Tennessee…. The crowd sat on the edge of their seats as I dragged the soft melody like a dead body onto the next verse. I got louder and showed them what my body could really do. I could feel the sound was vibrating all though my body. Everyone was caught off guard, and I had them right where I wanted them.

From there on something beautiful happened, and I was so in the moment that it didn’t even matter what they all thought about me. I could feel the emotions escaping my body, and nothing could tell me that something was right or wrong. My voice carried itself, and I hit notes that I never thought I could. I felt myself dancing with my banjo and my body moving the crowd. When I looked up all I saw was Max and Wookie, with their mouths dropped in shock.

The band had never been this in tune with each other before. It was as if all my frustration and my hurt that I had held in for so long turned into electric waves and spoke to every person in that room. I knew it was time to change to the next song. I nodded my head to signal it and sang with the passion I had felt just a few hours ago, and I opened the door into the first verse, There is a house in New Orleans. It was slowed down so that each note could be toyed with and melded into the perfectly imperfect phrase.

I couldn’t feel my body anymore. I became the lingering note sailing though the air. And Jeremy was the low reverberating note that complimented mine. And something happened that is rather hard to explain. We stopped on the four beat and played together as loud and passionately as we felt like playing. I wasn’t even saying words anymore.

Then as if it had never happened, we were as quiet as we had been at the start. It took a second for the crowd to realize what had just happened but they cheered and whistled, amazed that they had walked into this moment with us. Gently, we ended on the slowest we had ever played as I sank down, eyes closed letting my voice fade away into silence. As I stood there, I didn’t open my eyes. I felt my body release all its tension. It was at that moment I realized what love really is. I believe it’s different for everyone, and for me it’s these moments that come together so perfectly.

I had been inspired months before to pick up a banjo and to begin performing on stage. And now I was confident enough to let myself go. That night was beautiful because the band trusted each other. I understood for the first time the reason for life, and why life takes us on this ride.

Read Full Post »

It was my first day of kindergarten, and I was excited and scared at the same time. I didn’t understand why my mom was crimping my long thin blonde hair. I had to put on my blue velvet dress with white frills on the neck. My mom put on my little white socks with lace on the top, and I put on my shiny black shoes. My mom acted so proud that I was going to my first day of kindergarten. I just went along with it.

Being in class was overwhelming. It was the first day for everyone, and they were having trouble being still. As everyone ran ramped, I sat quietly and watched. For the first time in my life, I felt left out as kids huddled together and made friends.

Suddenly, a girl ran up to me. She was a spunky ball of energy, wild and high on the excitement of the place. She had on a purple cotton dress with colorful fish printed on it. I liked her socks that had beads sewn on the edge. She said, “My underwear is Snow White, what kind do you have?” She assumed all underwear had Disney characters on it. We played together for the rest of the school day. As class ended, we told our moms with excitement about our new friend.

Over the years, I went to Mallory’s house all the time. Her home was like a second home for me. She had the greatest toys, and her father made her a dollhouse two feet high with working lights, a miniature porcelain bathtub, miniature people and even miniature dishes. Her life seemed picture perfect, and it was fun to go to her house.

Her mother was a house mom. I almost don’t want to say wife because her dad and mom never acted like they were close. They were a family, but Sharon raised the two kids. The only thing her dad did was work and keep to himself. Kids seemed to bother him.

Sharon sheltered her daughter because Mallory had survived heart surgery as a baby. Sharon’s day centered around what Mallory wanted to do. Because her mother was so protective, Mallory could not make decisions on her own. When Mallory called me on the phone, I heard her mom in the background telling her what to say.

I could never imagine Mallory growing up. As the years passed, we started seeing each other less because we became such different people. Mallory was becoming inconsiderate and materialistic, and I was beginning to have a hard time with my mom. She sent me to juvenile hall when I was 15 because she thought she was losing control of me. I resented that because I’d committed no crime and didn’t belong there, and it only made our relationship worse. Seeing Mallory from time to time was refreshing because it reminded me of times in our childhood when we would laugh, talk nonsense and watch Disney movies.

On one visit, Sharon and I were talking in the kitchen when she asked how I was. I was upset because my dad was drinking too much. I expected her to say simply that she was sorry but to my surprise, she opened up and told me about her sister who was a heroine addict and died of AIDS. I began to cry. For the first time I realized this family’s cookie-cutter life was no more perfect than mine. Sharon thought I was crying because of my dad, but I was crying because I had known her most my life and never known this. What pain she must have gone through. It was another reason Sharon was so protective of Mallory.

I lost contact with Mallory in high school but recently saw her again. It had been three years since we graduated, and she had a lot to tell me. She ended up having delusions and being admitted to a mental hospital. We sat in an ice cream shop as she explained how she thought she’d become Miley Cyrus, a child star on the Disney snow Hannah Montana. I can see why she chose Miley Cyrus because the actress was so popular and talented and successful. She’d call her friends and ask them to come over to watch a Miley Cyrus play in the back yard. Being in the mental hospital was fun because people played along with her.

Then one day a neighbor passed away. This was the first time she’d had to deal with death. She was never that close to him, but he was important to her because he took interest in her life and how she felt about things, unlike her own father. She began seeing and hearing him speak to her, even though he was dead. Whether seeing him was real or imaginary, it made her feel better. Perhaps she realized death was a reality we all had to face and one that was particularly close to her because of the small aorta in her heart.

I now see Mallory more often. We go to the Rec. center, hang out and talk. All these difficulties have helped her grow up, but she still reminds me of the girl I knew as a child, eager and open and ready to laugh. Seeing her makes me feel more carefree too. Growing up is hard on everyone.

Read Full Post »

When I was 12 years old, I experienced a near-death experience that forever changed my life. My parents, brother and I lived in rural Indiana, with neighbors and corn fields surrounding our small house. I was in seventh grade and very active in sports, particularly basketball. My team won the community center championship that year, but I was unable to play.

One snowy night in the middle of March, I returned from basketball practice as I did each day. Shortly after, a blizzard moved in that caused power outages in our neighborhood. I had been watching the Indiana University NCAA tournament on T.V. After the game, I fell asleep on the couch, and my parents went to bed.

After a few minutes, I began to feel nauseous and to have cold sweats. I thought it was the flu, so I took some medicine to chill my fever out. After a little while, I started feeling worse. There was a feeling in my stomach I had never experienced. The pains were causing me to double over, and I was covered in sweat. Nothing was killing the pain, and the medicines I had taken weren’t doing anything at all but making me tired.

By then my mom was up. She gave me water to keep me hydrated but even water was coming back up. When she realized I could not hold down water, she became hysterical. My dad became aware of what was happening two hours later when I was vomiting nonstop in the bathroom. He told my mom to go back to bed when I became drowsy. All I could hear as I laid on the couch in abdominal pain was my mom crying her eyes out, saying, “My son is dying and I can’t do anything about it. He can’t even hold water down.” That really scared me.

The next day, I felt some relief in my stomach, but I was still making numerous trips to the restroom. By 10 a.m., we had seven inches of snow on the ground in a part of Indiana that rarely saw a plow. My fever was 102 degrees, and our county was in a state of emergency, which meant it was practically illegal to be seen driving on the roads. My mom called the doctor’s direct line and told him what was happening, and he told her I probably had a bad case of gastritis.

I tried to eat some chicken soup but was unable to and still had stomach pain and a fever of 101. After a couple days, the roads began to clear and businesses reopened. When the doctor’s office opened, my mom and I made the 50-mile drive to Kokomo. He ran some tests and pushed on my stomach, but I didn’t flinch. He diagnosed me with gastritis and gave me antibiotics to kill the virus.

Later that day, the doctor’s office called and said my white blood cell count was through the roof. I went back to the doctor the next day, and he ran the same tests and got the same results. They were flabbergasted and unsure what to do.

This went on for two weeks, repeated trips to the doctor and antibiotics, but I was still sicker than a dog. I finally made my last trip to the doctor. It had been exactly three weeks since the pain began. The doctor pushed around on my abdomen in a few different spots, and when he pushed down on my right side, I came up for air and felt a sharp, piercing pain. He knew then I had appendicitis and issued a CT scan.

I had missed nearly three weeks of seventh grade and the basketball championship game. My coaches and teammates visited me at my house and presented my trophy in my living room.

The night before the CT scan at the local hospital, I drank a fruit-punch flavored drink called Barium. It was nasty, but I had no choice about it. I also had to drink it for breakfast. It was awful.

That next morning, we went to the hospital, filled out the paperwork and talked to a surgeon about an appendectomy. I went in for a scan and met the x-ray technician. She put in an IV and asked me to lie down. The IV contained iodine to light up my internal organs. They ran the CT scan and the surgeon came in and confirmed what the doctor had said the day before. I had a ruptured appendix, and my stomach was so full of infection they had trouble seeing my organs on the x-ray. The surgeon said someone must have had big plans for my life because I shouldn’t be walking. I remained in the hospital the rest of the week.

At first, being in a hospital wasn’t too bad even though I was on a liquid diet. I was hooked up to so many medicines that every move I made pinched a hose from the IV-machine. I had a cute nurse waiting on me hand and foot, so I thought it was pretty good. It was also better than the other option, having surgery right after the CT scan and spending three weeks with hoses running out of me in a hospital room.

I chose the option to remove the infection without surgery and return to the doctor at the end of the summer. Friends from school visited me as well as a few teachers. My seventh grade class sent me a get well card, which lifted my spirits. After a few days, I started feeling better, more like my old self. I was ready to go home and was placed on a light diet, which included one meal of solid foods each day. I also had to limit my activity. The experience was beginning to agitate me, but I was finally allowed to go home.

I was released from the hospital on a Friday and went back to school the following Monday. My life was finally getting back to normal, but I couldn’t participate in P.E. class, which was depressing. I sat on the side of the football field, surfing the Internet and watching my classmates play Ultimate Frisbee.

I got out of doing a huge Geography project but had to make up a lot of homework. I’d never missed school before but had now been absent for an entire month. My teachers helped me by cutting my homework in half, but it was a lot for a seventh grader to handle in April when the weather is becoming nice again.

Fifteen years later, the experience still lingers in my mind. There must be some reason I’m still alive, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.

Read Full Post »

People have moments in life that will forever alter their outlook. The day that had the biggest affect on me and the person I intend to become was Feb. 12, 2010. It seemed like an ordinary day. My family and I had just toured the school my sister planned on attending the following semester. We left the campus around 1 p.m. and began the long four-hour trip home. But nothing could have prepared me for the phone call I was about to receive.

We had been driving for only two hours. I scurried around all my bags until I found my phone. On the screen popped up a picture of my best friend Samm. I answered my phone, thinking she would tell me a story of something dumb she’d just done. Instead it was quiet for a couple seconds until I heard a mumble on the other end of the line. I could tell something was terribly wrong.

She told she’d been driving around for a couple hours and could only think about wrapping her car around the nearest pole. I tried to figure out if she were serious. Many times in the past she had made comments about suicide but never meant it. It was difficult to talk sitting in the backseat with my family. I didn’t want them to hear our conversation and tried to be careful with my words. They were already on edge about my being friends with her. I told her I’d call her in a couple hours. Little did I know, she wouldn’t remember this conversation the following day.

When I got home, I called her as promised. Each time I called there was no answer. Instinctively, I knew something was wrong, but there was nothing I could do. The rest of the day I sat waiting for her to call and tell me everything was all right. By the time I went to bed, she still hadn’t called.

The next morning, groggy from lack of sleep, I lay there thinking about the phone call and reached for my phone sitting on my nightstand. I had one missed call from Samm and a new voicemail. In the voicemail, I could hear her crying in the background until her voice finally came through. She was at the hospital and they were running tests. She was scared and nervous and said they were going to transfer her out of the psych ward for further evaluation. She screamed, “Haley, I’m not crazy. I’m not crazy!” as the phone went dead.

I could feel warm tears begin to stream down my face. All I could do was sit and think and remember other times she’d spiraled out of control.

One day at Estes Park, we found a frozen lake. On the drive there to visit her father, we’d been eating a pan full of hardened caramel candy we’d made the day before. When we saw the lake, we parked the car and walked slowly to the edge. She took my hand, and we inched our way out ten feet from the shore then slowly worked our way back to dry ground. We hugged for no reason, but it seemed like the perfect moment, the perfect day.

I continued to think about times we’d taken risks together when the phone rang. It was Samm’s mom. “What the hell is going on?” I asked and she explained that Samm had taken a potentially lethal dose of prescription drugs, which caused her to black out for 24 hours. Samm couldn’t remember the call to me or what she’d been doing, and she’d almost succeeded in killing herself.

Samm’s mom continued to talk but I stopped listening. I could only think of my role in this. I had looked the other way nights Samm popped pills for fun.

Samm was now in a mental facility that had strict regulations about visitors. Her mom allowed us to talk every night at 6 p.m. Each night, all I could think about was my responsibility in the matter. No one blamed me but myself, but every time I tried to talk about it, all I could do was cry. It was the longest 10 days of my life.

Samm and I aren’t as close as we once were, but our friendship helped me realize what I want to do with my life, to help people with mental illness find a safe outlet. Through that experience, we managed to teach each other the most important lesson of our lives, how vital it is to hold someone else’s hand when you edge out on the ice.

Read Full Post »

A car is something some people think about as a means of transportation to get them from point A to point B. Others, though, think about a car as a work of art, one that is specialized, elegant and graceful and deserves to be treated with special care. I am one of those people.

Driving has always been a passion of mine, ever since I learned the word car. I love a car like a jockey loves his horse. When I sit in a car, I feel at one with the road. Nothing else matters, except the road and the set of four tires below me.

During the summer of 2010, I was fortunate to own a 2009 Volkswagen GTI, which is basically a little sports car that looks slow but is deceivingly fast. It had a manual transmission, which was a new experience for me. Although speed limits are posted, I believe they sometimes need to be surpassed. On a warm summer night in July of 2010, the time was right.

At the time I worked at a pizza restaurant, Protos, where I cleaned tables and washed dishes. It was not the most enjoyable job, but it paid for the gas that went into my fine German automobile. My boss was not easy to be around, and the job often stressed me out.

One night after work, I decided to take a long drive. I had driven through the canyons west of Boulder many times but never far enough to reach any of the old ghost towns there. I set out on a clear July night around 10 p.m., hooked up my GPS and typed in Ward. I especially enjoy driving at night because no one is on the road and the stars light up the sky. Immediately, I put my high beams on, opened all the windows and sunroof, and tured up my stereo to an unbearable volume.

On night drives, my music selection consists of older music like Dire Straits, 10,000 Maniacs, and Seal. That night called for Seal. The voice of Seal Henry Olusegun Olumide Samuel flowed with the sound of the engine so smoothly I could barely hear the car. Rain against my window, sweet memory. I can’t stand the rain.

Through the first bend I turn, pushing the lateral g-forces on my sport tires and blipping the throttle to downshift to second gear to get as much power as possible out of my two-liter turbo-charged engine. The turns come and go, just as quickly as my headlights dip up and down to adapt to the incline and decline of the road. I push my car, hugging the road as if I were attached to it by glue. With each turn, I can feel my body push outward, but I will not give into gravity as I push the gas harder.

Before I know it, I am at the top of Lee Hill and start heading down the backside and watch for gravel around each hairpin turn. At the bottom, I take a left turn onto Left Hand Canyon, which passes directly through Ward. At this point, I have not seen another car on the road, and it’s fantastic. As the road becomes straighter, my speedometer goes up, until I reach a comfortably fast speed. I hug the middle of the road through the straights, making sure not to get close to the shoulders in case of unexpected obstacles.

Miles are eaten up like there is no tomorrow, through track after track of Seal. This is a man’s world, this is a man’s world, but it would be nothing without a woman or a girl. Driving this fast on the road, there is no second guessing. I keep both hands on the wheel and keep my eye open for anything that might get in my way. The turns come and go as I shift down and accelerate, hearing the once humble exhaust roar like an exotic car.

My friends love my car because they think it looks cool, but there is so much more to it than the physical appeal. At some point I start singing, tapping the steering wheel to the beat, leaning into each turn as if I’m one of the wheels, not letting the cold air or sharp turns slow me down. Because the night belongs to lovers, because the night belongs to lust, they can’t hurt ya now, they can’t hurt ya now, they can’t hurt ya now.

The night air is cool and crisp as I pull into Ward, only to realize there is nothing there but deserted cars and rundown shacks. I head home, taking the inside corners, hugging both sides of the road, trying to slice through the turns as efficiently as possible. On the downhill straights I coast, making sure I don’t push past my limits. It is then I feel the moment of glory that professional race car drivers feel, having reached my happy place. I pull into the driveway and place the key in my pocket, just a small piece of metal, but a means freedom for me and time alone where no one could find me.

Read Full Post »

In May of 2010, I moved from Boise, Idaho, back home to Soldotna, Alaska. Little did I know the surprising condition I would find my old truck. Not only had my brother Aaron and friend Zach spray painted my GMC Sierra flat black and placed a punisher skull on the front hood, but my dad Dale had placed four large classy professional stickers on the truck. Two of the stickers exclaimed Auburn Tigers and were placed on the front bumper and the tailgate. The other two stickers were placed on the doors and illuminated the words War Eagle. The stickers were all white with orange outlines and really stood out on the flat black paint.

When I got home, I resumed possession of the old truck. I wish I had taken photos of all the confused faces that I encountered observing my truck, which I dubbed Aubie. After all, this was Alaska not Alabama and few knew the meaning of War Eagle. However, not only had my dad placed stickers on the truck, he also proudly declared that if Auburn ever went to the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) national championship game, our family would cheer on his beloved Tigers. Although dad made this promise, it was taken as a joke, since Auburn had never been to a championship game and has not been a national champion since 1957.

In September 2010, I left Alaska and moved to Colorado. My dad then resumed possession of Aubie. He is now known as the lawyer in Soldotna that drives the junk yard War Eagle truck. Once the college football season began, my family began watching the Auburn games. To our delight, Auburn just kept winning. The Auburn games were a rollercoaster ride to watch. In each game, they made comebacks.

After the Auburn-LSU game, Dad bought the tickets to the BCS Championship game on a leap of faith. Auburn still had many tough games ahead of them, and we waited anxiously for the series to end.

The most important game of the season was Auburn versus Alabama on Alabama’s home turf. They have one of the biggest rivalries in college football. Although my Dad is an easygoing guy, the one thing he really hates is the Alabama Crimson Tide.About the rivalry, Tim Hyland, founder and editor of The College Football Athenaeum, said, It is called the Iron Bowl, and for more than a century, it has been tearing the state of Alabama in two. These two teams hate each other. The fans hate each other. And probably more than any other rivalry in college football, Alabama-Auburn is truly a 365-day-a-year obsession.

In November, my parents and my brother Aaron visited me in Colorado for Thanksgiving to watch the big game together. The first quarter ended 21 to 0 in Alabama’s favor. Our hopes and dreams of going to the national championship game began to go down the drain when the score hit 24 to 0 Bama. It was 24 to 7 at the halftime. As we sat there at half time, my brother’s face was blue. I heard my dad mumble to my mom, “Rhoda we will just sell the tickets, take the family to Hawaii.” With the half time over, we sat back down to watch and prayed for a different outcome.

With 14:04 on the clock, Terrell Zachery, a wide receiver for Auburn, caught a 70-yard pass from the team’s starting quarterback Cam Newton for a touchdown. We were back in it. The excitement in my living room was running strong as we watched the rest of the game wide-eyed and hopeful.

The offense became inspired with 4:25 left on the clock, and the defense seemed like a new team. Newton ran the ball in from the one-yard line for another touchdown. With 1:05 left on the clock, Alabama made a field goal for three more points. The score was now 27 to 21 with Alabama still in the lead. We kept our hopes alive. When we saw the smile on Newton’s face as he returned to the field, it was like he was saying, “Don’t worry, I got this!”

With 11:55 on the clock, Auburn tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen caught a seven-yard pass from Newton to score another touchdown, putting us in the lead 28 to 27. That was the final score. We screamed with joy at every tackle and completed pass the Auburn team made that last quarter. It wasn’t until every second was off that clock that we relaxed.

However, the victory did not mean that Auburn was automatically going to the championship game. It wasn’t until Dec. 4, with a victory over South Carolina, we officially knew we were going to the BCS Championship game.

On Jan. 7, my parents flew from Soldotna, Alaska, to Phoenix, Arizona, for the game. That same evening I flew from Denver to join my parents. My brother flew in too, and we spent the first day exploring Glendale, Arizona, including the University of Phoenix Stadium, where the game was going to take place. Everywhere we went, people were in Auburn orange or Oregon yellow. Just about every Auburn fan we would greet us with War Eagle.

The following morning, however, I ended up in the emergency room. In Alaska a few days earlier, my brothers had been playing hockey with some friends when Aaron accidentally hockey checked me in the jaw. The emergency room doctor gave me pain medicine and antibiotics, and I went back to the hotel to sleep for a three-hour nap before we headed over to the Auburn pep rally in Scottsdale.

With little sleep and heavily medicated, I watched the 15,000 fans through the car window in a haze. We parked several blocks away. The crowd was yelling chants and singing with Auburn’s band. I don’t think Scottsdale was prepared for the large of crowd as many fans had to stand in the parking garages.

On game day, we woke early and assembled our Auburn gear. We met with a cousin, who had spent many years by my dad’s side watching Southeastern Conference Championship games and went to the stadium.

The game began slowly, with no score. The second quarter began with an Oregon field goal by place kicker Rob Beard for 26 yards. Two minutes later, Auburn made a touchdown. Kodi Burns caught a 35-yard pass from Newton. Auburn kicked for the extra point making the score 7 to 3. Oregon quickly recovered with a touchdown making the score 11 to 7 with eleven minutes left in the half. By halftime, the score was 16 to ll in favor of Auburn.

Finally as the clock ticked down to 2:33 in the fourth quarter, the game changed. Oregon scored a touchdown and completed the two-point conversion, and the Oregon crowd regained hope. As the clock ran down with two seconds on the clock, Auburn drove the ball down to field goal range and kicked a field goal to win the game. “The first quarter was scoreless and the fourth quarter was breathless,” said Chris Dufresne, a reporter for the Los Angeles Times.

I had a new passion for football as I returned home from that game, and my dad returned to Alaska to drive Aubie with pride.

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »