It is just past 9 p.m. on Sunday, November 25, and I am flying over some part of what must be the I-85 South that I know so well, the concrete and asphalt roads hidden under a blanket of night.
I might as well go ahead and say it: I don't know who won (is winning?) the Old Spice Tournament championship game between Davidson and Gonzaga. I am too cheap to spring for Delta's wifi. Just before I turned my phone off because the cabin doors had closed, Jessie texted "47-49!!" and I inwardly cheered and simultaneously groaned that I have to remain in suspense from 10,000 feet. I'm gazing out at the squinty streetlights down below, wondering what's happening on the court in Orlando. We'll land and I'll turn my phone on and my missed texts will probably tell the tale before I can even check Twitter or ESPN.
It will be really cool if we've won, and okay if we haven't; Gonzaga is a really good team. And I've been sitting here in Seat 17A (yay, a window!) reliving the excitement of skipping my post-turkey nap for a third-time's-the-charm win over Vanderbilt (texting my friends and only dropping one obscenity in front of my family - "ooh, do I get to watch you watch a game?" my aunt exclaimed), and shrieking unabashedly (but again, not profanely) in my grandparents' TV room, clutching my dad for the last two minutes of our heart-pounding win against West Virginia. Tonight, just an hour ago, I sat in a corner at Gate B13 in Hartsfield and pressed my phone to my ear as Kilgo called the first half (and yes, I got chills when he said, "Of course, all Davidson fans remember that day in Raleigh..."). Once, after Nik hit a three, I pumped my fist in the midst of all these traveling strangers and realized that I probably looked crazy (if they happened to look up from their phones and see me). But it didn't matter. I rattled my feet up and down, nervous but happy, part of the cheering throng even from far away.
This isn't one of my language-laden meta self-exploratory lalalalala pieces that I tend towards (y'all love those, I know), but just a simple handwritten scribble on the back of my creased and worn itinerary, thoughts before the result. Memory and anticipation and calm. Below me, Southern towns shine like jewels.
And we descend into the Queen City...