I couldn't help it; I texted Kruse about 7:30.
I'm so proud of him.
Yes, I AM. Because in spite of (because of?) my hard gushing loud non-stop shoulder-shaking sobs of 2 months ago when I felt like nothing would ever be right again (it will; it won't be the SAME, but it will be so good/so good), he looked so fresh and nervous and HAPPY in his suit that made him look all of his 6'3, sitting jittery at that round table with his sister and his girlfriend and Dell and Sonya and Bob, familiar familiar faces in such a surreal glitterglitz overwhelming context. He looked like Steph. In the middle of the suits and tattoos and sunglasses. He was Steph.
I feel the same way.
I got that text from that man down in Florida who has written so much about this and about what happened before it and what made it happen way back down the road a year ten years forty years and who will write so much about what will happen today tomorrow October November through March and years beyond. And it echoed through my years and his years and people I know and people I don't know and people I know or feel like I know because of this journey that I've become a part of, Internet screennames and faces and voices and moments and classes and stories that become legends that are real because we witnessed them. I feel the same way and the same way is pride. The same way is Davidson. The same way is walking into Belk Arena on a cold December night because we are who we are and we do what we do and who we are and what we do are rooted deep hard firm into our hearts, how we learn, who we love, when we laugh/cry/cheer, what we do with our daily lives, apart, together. The same way is singing "--we will conquer, ere the day is done!", win or lose. The same way is home. This place that has EARNED the title of home for us, as Rachel said the other night, she put it so clearly and I love it-- we were born in a place, grew up there, and there's never a question; it's home. It's supposed to be, has to be, where else would it be? We go to a new place, know nothing, no one, but slowly and strongly and somehow through days and nights and people and singing late at night walking up silent cobblestone it earns and and claims and wedges its way into our hearts deeper than a brochure ever told you it could.
Stephen of Davidson. Kruse again. A proclamation, decreed. Even--especially?--with this night.
It feels like he doesn't have to be Stephen of Davidson anymore if he doesn't want it, especially now; he can be Stephen of Golden State (Stephen of Suns?), Stephen of $$$$$$millions, Stephen of Nike. And he will be those too of course, in this business he can't escape it-- but--
Three days ago he was in Belk for McKillop's basketball camp.
Two weeks ago he was writing a paper in Bobcats Arena.
Tonight his coach, the one who really made so much of it happen in the first place (not the 40-30-33-25 that turned it viable, but the FIRST first place, the looking and the choosing and the legendary house visit, the green light versus the redshirt), sat with him for this, the turning point.
Tonight he and his family had a sign: Hi, Davidson.
(I'm sorry, do we think that any other top-10 picks made a friggin sign?)
He looked like Steph. He was Steph.
This kid that we've literally, point A to point B to point C to point D, watched grow into this... thing bigger than himself and yet all the while remain himself-- will always be Stephen of Davidson. That's our choice-- the facebook statuses, the text messages, the emails and phone calls back and forth in the summertime because we're watching the same thing on the screen and we're not together but we want to be because this is important, dammit (think Easter 2008), this is OUR BOY-- but it's also his choice. And in the midst of his dream coming true, we are still his. He is still ours. Through signs and smiles and Dell curved into his chair just like he curves in his mid-court seat and Sonya biting her lip and their son's pure quiet excitement that makes me think of the 18-year-old he was, who beamed and stuck out his tongue because the crowd was roaring and that was just so much fun (oh man, we had no idea)... through the shared memories and everpresent acknowledgment, spoken and unspoken, of ten days when we were suddenly on top of the world (and only he, and we, can really know how that felt, only)... Through all of these, and through that welling up feeling, that heart-in-throat feeling when I heard his name for the what number? time (not in a classroom, not in a starting lineup, not on Kilgo, not on The Davidson Show) and saw him duck his head and stand up and smile-- he kept being ours. He re-became ours. Different but the same. Hell, we're all ________ of Davidson. Your name there. My name there. His name there.
That's what it is.
And I felt like he was carrying us all on his shoulders.
Not because he had to. Because he wanted to.
Not because he felt pressured. Because he felt free to.
Always, I replied down to St. Pete, before any of this actually happened. Pressed send and watched him on the screen, in the pre-taped commercial clips, twirling a ball and glowing that easy grin of his with loud music and all angles and bright lights, wearing his white home #30 jersey with one name on the front (no names on the back). Our name on the front. Thinking this is so effing surreal. Thinking of moments. Thinking of home.
"Just showing that I’m still wearing Davidson on my heart even though I have a Golden State hat on now."