CELEBRATE This Week: XLV
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Twenty years ago I walked through the gates and into the lights of a high school football field. I was a Wildcat then, with painted senior jeans and blue paw print on my cheek. I bled blue and red.
I was meeting a Squire for the very first time. He was dressed all in black. Black shirt. Black jeans. Black trench coat. It was Black Out Night for Manchester. I was annoyed. My friend Mary was dating a Squire and wanted me to meet his friend.
I didn’t want to go.
It turns out Mary was up to shenanigans. She thought it would be fun to set up a blind date. The Squire in the trench coat didn’t want to be there either.
I’d almost forgotten that there was a time when wearing red and black made me cringe. Andy and Steph led us up into the home stands. Hannah walked beside me, towering over me, and the boys shuffled behind, their eyes locked on the “ginormous football players.”
We settled into the stands, hugs around for Aunt Abbie and Grandma and Grandpa. Andy points to the field and leans over to explain the play to Jay. In sync, they jump to their feet, cheering as Manchester snags an interception.
It has been too many years since Andy and I have been to a home football game together. It was one of the sacrifices of adopting older children. Friday nights became family night confined to the walls of our home. Bedtime was before kickoff.
Tonight is Black Out Night. Our niece is in the end zone student section all in black, with black paint on her arms and legs. Our nephews are on the field. Hannah is with the band. Stephanie is running around with her friends. Sam makes concession stand runs for any fan in our section. Jay stays next to Andy and Grandpa, and their conversation sticks to football.
In the fourth quarter, Aunt Abbie says, “I love being around old, married people.”
I remind Ab that she is (and always will be) much older than me.
Abbie rolls her eyes and tells me six months isn’t much older than anything.
Andy winks at me.
When his eyes met mine for the first time, I totally fell for them. Head over heals, I loved those eyes. I’m glad all I saw was the color and not our years unfolding together. I would have been scared away.
Twenty years later, a football game is evidence of healing.
The game ends and I cheer the first victory of the season with the home crowd. . We hustle around the field so the kids can get high fives as the team heads to the locker room.
As they are clapping hands with “celebrities,” I stand beside Andy under the lights of a high school football field and I remember the magic of life happens in moments just like this.