Saturday, September 19, 2009

Alma Mater

It was homecoming yesterday at my high school alma mater, which I didn't know about until today, which is okay because I wasn't going to go anyway. Since I don't live in or around my hometown, and we apparently don't have a very active alumni group, or at least we don't have a very active alumni group about which I know, I only found out about homecoming because I was reading the hometown paper online this morning and as it turns out my alma maters football team scored a huge upset during the homecoming game. Good for them.
The beat a team that has appeared in the state championship game for each of the last three years, and whom is almost universally vilified. I don't think they are vilified because they are bad, I think it's because they are good in just about every sport. Anyway, my alma mater beat them in a thrilling overtime game last night and as I read the article describing the game and looked at the photos of the game I suddenly had this rush of memories and feelings come over me, if only fleetingly.
First of all, seeing the sights of the stadium: the dark night in the background with the uniforms and the polished aluminum of the stands showing brightly in the stadium lights. The faceless cheerleaders and fans in the background of the pictures. I love it. I played football in high school, although not very well that's for sure, and I went to a lot of them, and having been out on the field like millions of other high school boys even for that short time I can say that I understand why professional football players have a hard time letting go of the game. I saw all those pictures and all the sights, sounds, smells, and feeling came back and I wished I had been there, even if only as a fan.
Of course, I didn't really want to be there and I never would have gone. I didn't grow up in a small town, and I am sure that it is slightly different in a small community, but from what I remember at my high school homecoming was more for the current students than it was for the former students. I don't remember there being a lot of former students around at homecoming while I was in school. Maybe that was because my school was only like seven years old at the time, I don't know. But I also know that, aside from the first year, I can't remember seriously considering going back for it. I think that if I were to be there people might look at me like I am a freaky freak of nature.
So I didn't go back, but I was still pretty proud of what my predecessors had done on that perfectly manicured field on that slightly cool Friday night, and I am sure that I will mention something about it at work on Monday and people will look at me like I need to get a life. Fine. I can deal with that. I will still feel proud and boastful. That is the power of the alma mater: something about that idea of school spirit that is sort of infiltrated into your fabric, if you allow it to be, that will never go away. It is strong enough that I can, almost ten years on, still get excited about a high school football game occurring hundreds of miles away from where I am sitting, I can still have flashbacks when I see the local kiddos getting dressed up for prom.
That's the power of memory. That's the power of youth. That's the power of a 12-6 overtime victory against one of the top rated teams in the state. That's the power of defeating time and distance. That's the power of the alma mater.

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