Thursday, January 22, 2015

Notre Dame, Our Mother, and My Son

This is going to be a good day for yoga because I woke up with so much noise inside my head.

I got a piece of fanmail from Karen Cushman yesterday. Karen Cushman.

I need to start writing something. My editor isn't ready to discuss my submitted draft yet. I've got the Egypt book swirling in my head, but I need real research before I start it. I've got a new character for a new book showing up and saying stuff. I've got all these words, all this mental chatter.

Yesterday a kind woman at Faith in Action--an infrequent volunteer--was full of ideas about stuff I could write about. There's never a polite way to say, "Please be quiet, I am so full of my own ideas I can barely stagger," but I swear I'm going to find one.

I'd like a place of inner peace and stillness. So let me tell you about the day my boy and I went to the Notre Dame bowl game.

When the news came that Notre Dame had accepted an invitation to play in the Something-or-other-Mortgage-Company Music City Bowl, my son was very happy, because it was in Nashville, which is only about five hours if I drive or four and a half if he's driving away from Bristol, over Christmas break. He was eager to go. The game was on a Tuesday afternoon. My husband couldn't get away from work, but I could. I was thrilled, too, to have a day just with my boy.

It was cold and bright. My son drove, since he actually likes driving, and we got into Nashville early, before lunch. I thought we'd need GPS and all that, but we didn't; the stadium is down by the river, right downtown. I go to Nashville pretty often but not the downtown part. We parked and walked around, bundled up in boots and coats, among all sorts of other football fans. We ate lunch, moved the car, which turned out to be pointless (they'd converted the main bridge across the river into a pedestrian walkway, for the game day only, so you couldn't actually park close to the stadium), then went to the stadium early and wandered around. I met some of my son's friends, who play in the band. My son had bought our tickets at school, for cheap, and we were right next to the band, in a section full of students and their friends and parents. This was fun for me--the band plays all the time, and the students have songs and dances and arm movements that go with everything they play. This is how the students keep from freezing during the games--it's like football aerobics.

That, and the students never sit down. Not once during the game, except halftime.

I have watched football my whole life without understanding any of its nuances. I know the basics, but could never tell you, say, how a cornerback differed from a nickelback, if in fact they do. My son, on the other hand, knows everything about watching Notre Dame. He knows who all the main players are, by name, he knows what they're supposed to be doing, and he can usually guess what's going to happen by how they line up, or move, or something--I don't know, but it impresses the heck out of me.

Even for a relative neophyte, like me, it was one heck of a game. Notre Dame was widely expected to get shellacked by LSU. Instead, they ran down the field and scored right away. LSU answered, Notre Dame answered back, and the score flip-flopped like that all the way until the final four seconds, when Notre Dame kicked a field goal to win.

All home games at Notre Dame stadium end with the football team gathered on the edge of the field, facing the student section. All the students, both on the field and in the stands, put their arms around each other, and they sing the school's alma mater, "Notre Dame, Our Mother." When they won the bowl game, the team ran out onto the middle of the field, and it was clear they were doing some sort of required television ceremony, handing the two head coaches guitars (Music City Bowl!) and blah blah. The students in the stands weren't sure whether to stay or leave; the band messed with their instruments, confused.

Then whatever it was on the field concluded. With a roar, the football team rushed toward the student section of the field. The students in the bleachers roared back, and the band jumped up, and then everyone had their arms around each other, everyone was singing, and so was I, and so was my son.

I am so happy to have had that day with him, and so glad he has the chance to study at that school. And writing this down was like a tonic, clearing all those pesky words from my head.

Love you, son. Have a great day.