I was thinking about it on this disgustingly coldrainy day, one day past last fall break, two days before my last first night in Belk, three days before I turn 22, rewatching some clips, and a very simple thought hit me. Hit me so hard I had to say it out loud to the nobody else in the room.
"I owe it to them.
"I owe it to them."
I owe it to them to show up Friday night, to show up for every game that I can, to stand up for them for a full two hours regardless of the score on that board and the number of obscenities that leave my mouth. I owe it to them in a very different way than I feel I owe any other part of this place-- and believe me, I owe every part of this place (and money doesn't even count).
This team-- not one person, not two people, this TEAM-- and this coach-- and the community they bring together have changed my life dramatically over the past 3 years, in ways I can tangibly see and feel and understand and rejoice in every.single.day. They have given me moments of joy, yes, deep moments of full throttle roaring gut busting pride pounding euphoria that I would love to relive againandagainandagain, but-- more than that, because of those-- they've given me a life within that chapter and into the next, inside the arena and out. They've pushed people into my path that I wouldn't have found otherwise, they've given me friends and mentors and family. Relationships that first bonded with a basket or bloomed with jokes watching warmups or strengthened with screaming stuck in one moment unable to move collective courage inhale exhale inhale exhale. Relationships first written with words suddenly pulled into reality, hereweare, sitting and steeping in stories, creating our own as the hours pass, lazy, wonderful, laughterful.
All of this.
For this, for these irreplaceables (you and you and you and--on and on) that fill my heart, given to me by moments (what happened first where did it begin how did it become), I owe this team, coach, place, people, my feet on the ground and my hands in the air and my throat scratched hoarse. Gratitude, manifested, open ended, soaking through. Regard-less.
I walked from reluctant coldrain into warm Unionbuzz. And it made me think of those nights in winter, coming slowly but surely and steady, like my feet tapping down cobblestone, stepbystep moving me where I am supposed to go.