264. And now, an appreciation

But the world doesn’t make perfect girls; only perfect looking girls, the kind who dance in oversized martini glasses on New Year’s Eve and let you build them a porch with your own bare hands, a place she can read Susan Orlean and remark quietly that no, she doesn’t need a sweater, thank you, but maybe we could cancel the weekend’s trip to the city and just stay there, right there.

Continue reading 264. And now, an appreciation

253. Michigan State 31, Oregon 28

Somewhere on the top shelf of my mind sat the staunch, unquestioned certainty that Oregon would beat Michigan State on Saturday.

Underdogs for the first time since 2011? Who cares! On the road against an early playoff contender? Easy af. Second-ever start for a QB with a broken finger? Had I even known that finger was broken, my response would’ve been the same — Doesn’t matter.

And then before I even realized it, that certainty evaporated, and I was stumbling out of Spartan Stadium with three Oregon friends and a cute Michigan girl named K inexplicably charmed by our out-of-towner optimism and demand for relentless fun.

K didn’t understand what this loss meant for us; how close it was, literally just inches from our fingertips, how foreign this soured emptiness felt after years of winning precisely these kinds of games. She could sympathize but not empathize. She could look inside the aquarium of our despair but never estimate the depth.

S, B, and I each experienced a moment of profound solitary sorrow. S screamed his voice gone as the clock hit zero — primal and drunk and generally frightening to the Midwestern sensibility that enveloped us. B, nursing a busted nose from a fall in the bleachers, generally appeared on the verge of tears. On the other side of the turnstiles, he listlessly pinballed off the stadium’s facade. I made a beeline for a big aspen tree with roots that gnarled up through the ground, and I laid flat on my back, inert.

“Marcus would’ve made that throw. Marcus would’ve made that throw. Marcus would’ve made that throw.”

College football has revealed novel, personal emotions I didn’t know existed within humanity’s spectrum.

I’m genuinely not sure we would have been able to pull ourselves together to leave the stadium if not for K. She teaches four-year-olds. She was well-equipped to deal with us.

But then, as we collectively pushed tomorrow’s looming fallout out of mind — The polls, oh god, the polls! — and crowded together toward the grounds’ exit, two things happened.

First, we made a group of Spartans fans promise us they would destroy Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes. (“We sure will try,” one man said.) Second, the Michigan State marching band materialized directly in front of us, and the drumline started to rub-a-thump the Spartans’ fight song.

The three of us fell to pieces all over again.