A new dawn.
After a tumultuous Friday that had me freaking out due to poor tailgate preparation, I was awakened from my "evening nap" and popped up off the couch to the alarm on my new cell phone, a simultaneous phone call from an online wake up service, and eventually the alarm on Tuba's phone. I gave him the obligatory "I'm good," showered, shaved, put on my morning load-the-car clothes, and took off in Johnny Cleveland's truck on a mission to get a propane exchange from a gas station in Ypsi. I had already made arrangements to get the exchange with the clerk back at 2am the previous evening. It was now 6am. He remembered me, and he apologized for not being able to attend to me earlier in the evening, which to him was "earlier in his shift," but for me was "last night." I wondered what this guy must be thinking. Probably not that I was helping to host 100+ at a party that was to start in 90 minutes in the shadows of the largest college football stadium in the world. I added two bags of ice to my order, one to freshen the beer cooler, and one for the 100 kabobs and 8 pounds of bacon in the food cooler.
A new day.
Parking wasn't perfect at our new home, but given the circumstances, it went pretty smoothly. From the time the fires were lit on the grill and stove, I remember very few details of the 8-hour marathon tailgate. There were a lot of hugs, a lot of food, and a whole lot of people. Perhaps the smaller venue contributed to how crowded things were, but there's no doubt people came out of the woodwork to see where the group who spent 15 years on the 7th green of Ann Arbor Golf and Outing had moved, and how we would adjust. In short, we did well...maybe even very well. I even managed to drink a little.
We did a half pack up of loose equipment at around 3pm, and I left the tailgate at 3:10pm. I arrived at my gate at 3:20pm, high fived the fine event staff as I jumped the line, and was in my seat by 3:25pm. Ya, the tailgate is that close. After another round of hello-how-ya-been hugs with the section regulars, it was time to put the gameface on.
A new life.
Three-and-out. Forcier to Hemmingway. 7-0. Denard on a broken play, laces dangling, 14-0. Forcier to a wide open Koger, 21-0. I'd like to say that I remember how it used to feel, but I don't. This was different. We hadn't had our backs against the wall in this manner since before I cared this much...before National Championships were considered the goal, before the BCS, and before Lloyd Carr was beloved. A losing season does something to a fan, to a man. Especially when you've NEVER had one. When you long for victory, ANY victory, putting a team away before halftime is such a relief, such bliss, that you're not sure what to do. At 21-0, with the student section leading 100,000 in a chant of Rich-Rod-ri-guez, it was all I could do to hold back tears of joy. Michigan still has a long way to go to get to where they want to go. That won't happen this year. But it might be sooner than later that they make their way back to where they were. What was considered the ceiling on Friday night, might have become the floor on Sunday morning.
A rousing chorus of The Victors, a piped in Welcome to the Jungle, a well executed wave, and a group of men that are probably too young to realize that they changed our lives, if only for a week.