This picture appeared in my 11th-grade yearbook, and it was where I always signed friends' copies. This was taken on the sidelines during a playoff game when our football team was losing 49-0...at halftime. How good was the opposing team? They had 120 players, for one thing. Also, their two main offensive stars later went on to college glory and, in at least one case, the NFL. Our team had two current NFL players and a guy who has appeared on The Drew Carey Show. Bastards. But I digress. We lost 49-6, after the other team put in their ninth-string players and (I suspect) some of the coaches' smaller pets.
Though half of our team was crying on the sidelines, the photographer singled me out because I was special. I've always been what you call an emotional person. Not in the drama-queen, stupid-shit sense, but in the things-that-really-matter-to-me sort of way. At 16, high-school football meant everything to me. I worked for the team for two years before playing on it my senior year, and it took up as much time as school did (Indeed, the head coach would tell years later that I often did more than he did). So when I cried, others cried with me. Teenage intensity, you know. There's nothing like it.
Why do I bring this up, nine years later? Because I can still vividly remember that particular night: how I felt, the general vibe among the team, the hostility of Baton Rouge, etc. It took a lot to make me this openly emotional in front of thousands of people. What amazes me now is that I was able to muster so much emotion then, considering all that's happened in the ensuing nine years:
--At least 17 people I knew and loved dying, including most of my role models;
--The Neocon Revolution and its contempt for due process;
--9/11 and the ensuing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq;
--Losing a high-school classmate in Iraq and having numerous friends and relatives abroad;
--The ongoing job hunt that has left my friends and I groping at virtually nothing (and often at odds with our families);
--Being disillusioned in general with the supposed "American Dream."
I miss crying over high-school football.