On Saturday evening, Dad arrived and we drove another ninety miles down a one-lane South Carolina backroad with the sun spilling over us and no service on our cell phones, to get to PC by 7:30.
Some might find it two tablespoons short of crazy that when my father's in town for less than 24 hours, the first thing we do is drive an extra hour and a half to a small-town basketball game. If you know that I grew up with him, his 3 brothers, his father, and my little brother all shouting (um, passionately discussing?) at the TV post-Sunday brunch, then it makes a little more sense. If you know that my first memory of chanting "DE-FENSE!" comes from watching him play in our church basketball league -- my elementary school Friday nights smelled like rubber and wood, sounded like shoesqueaks, and felt like ridged metal bleachers under my butt -- then you can drop back a tablespoon or so.
There we were, over a decade past those early days, squeezed in towards the top of a gym that probably rivaled my high school's size-wise. As we watched and yelled, I was very grateful for the feeling that filled me up, this sense of family that I was born with and family that I have somehow stumbled upon. By this time, both have gone through changes and shifts that I was never certain how to handle, and I have no doubt that more will come -- but there we were on this night, a pocket-full of red, standing. Kids and men and women, a lion-hearted captain, years and generations. My father and me. A coach and his players. The ceiling was low, the air was thick and hot, the voices bellowed against us and we shouted (um, passionately discussed?) back. Faces become familiar, names become known. Bottled water and a bag of m&ms for dinner never tasted so good. While I texted Morgan score updates until the victory became official, he texted me about a second-year NBA player who'd just won the All-Star Skills Challenge in Los Angeles.
Somehow, all of this came to matter in my life.