A couple of weeks ago, my daughter and I attended the Cape Central - Jackson football game. It was an interesting evening, to say the least.
We arrived at Houk (umbrella in hand, thank goodness) about 20 minutes before kick-off, so I had plenty of time to engage in one of my favorite "public place" activities -- people watching. At sporting events, that takes on a really fun twist, as I enjoy looking at all the ways people express their school spirit. Because we were sitting on the "home" side of the field, I saw plenty of orange and black face and body paint, scarves, hats, crazy socks, and the like. It took me back to my own high school days (yes, back in the dark ages) and to when my own kids were students at Central.
The skies were gray as we entered the stadium, and part-way through the first half the skies opened. Black and orange umbrellas opened all around us, and across the field I could see an answering display of red & black. I was immediately reminded of a junior varsity game in Sikeston several years ago when not only was the rain coming in heavy sheets but the wind was blowing so hard that umbrellas were only a formality. Added to that, the temperature had dropped down into the high 40's. I don't think I've ever been as wet or as bone-deep cold as I was that night!
It wasn't just the rain that caused me to reminisce. The teams out on the field, the band, the proud & nervous parents, the Jungle, the long-running rivalry between two schools separated by less than 10 miles -- they all worked together to bring back memories of my own high school days but primarily of time spent in the bleachers watching my son and his friends out on the field. I thought of the friendships that developed among the various parents, the sense of community that comes from attending football games (and other sporting events as well, of course), and the memories that we carry from those events.
In the end, it was a bittersweet experience. An evening to look around and enjoy, look back and remember. An evening with my daughter, chatting and sharing memories. Not at all a bad way to spend a fall evening in southeast Missouri.