Thursday, December 16, 2010

Dear underclassmen:




Maybe the first thing you noticed was the blinding bright of headlights shining from the frosted practice field, and more inching past Baker towards Overflow Parking. Maybe you heard the back and forth of voices, cheering, catcalls coming from the unlit places; maybe, as you walked peoplepushtight towards the lobby, you felt like something was sweeping you up, a force unnamed but strong and full. You tried not to tread on feet as you weaved dodged slipped your way through the glass doors and suddenly it slammed into you, the warmth, the brass --

I gotta feelin... that tonight's gonna be a good night...

Maybe you felt it.

Maybe you decided to come for the t-shirt, or to support your friends. Maybe you were going to suffocate if you didn't GET (inhale) OUT (exhale) of the library basement. (Hey, at least the rug isn't puke-green anymore. Things could be worse.)

I don't really care why you came.

But I hope that you started to understand. I hope you felt like a part of something bigger as soon as you hit the smells of popcorn and sleek wood. Because that's where it begins -- with muttering spluttering settling shuffling revving shedding jackets hoisting signs pulling the lobster mask over your head (well, that would be just one) laughing handshakes children running sneakers squeaking and trumpets blasting over it all. So!many!people!

Maybe you stood up because everyone else was standing, turned around to ignore the opposing line up without even knowing why. Maybe you caught your voice twisting into a cheer when the guitars rumbled, when the ball was up and tipped; maybe you even bounced a little bit on your toes. Maybe it felt like the energy around you was scratching itching so close to spilling when JP pushed the ball downcourt, when Jake and Clint skyed for a rebound, when Ben and De'Mon pulled away and threw down for dunks, when in one fluid motion Brendan drew up and sent it soaring, and suddenly the swish of the net was the only sound in the world -- and then the jolt, brimbursting rejoice, the overflow, the up up up of voices hitting the high rafters, bellows beating back and forth, rivalry revived.
*
Maybe, in these moments, you picked up the story and felt its weight, and maybe, without even knowing it, you started a new chapter.
*
At the end -- "HEY HEY HEY! GO-OD-BYE!" oh I loved waving up at them as they stood stone silent, loved loved loved it -- I watched the senior captain, who has grown up on these sidelines, beam and hoist the Hornets' Nest with fire pride. He knows what came before, and what it means now. I watched the freshmen wave with openedwide eyes and hope in their hands, ready to build it up and out as far as it will go, clearing the way for their own footsteps. I watched all of you disperse, back to all-nighters and parenthetical citations and 1 AM quesadillas, clapping and chatting and ready to tell a story.
*
History hangs in the rafters here, but you give life to these moments, now. We live in an aching, chaotic, giant miscommunication of a world, but this -- somehow this starts out right, and stays that way. So many folks will tell you so.
*
You know what? I really don't care why you came.
*
But I hope that you come back.
*

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