Monday, January 31, 2011

Rose Bowl Hangover

I have never been speechless before. The one thing I've always had at the ready is words, but I've been trying to write about the Rose Bowl for almost a month now and I can't do it. Words come and go through my head like Bart Johnson dashing through the Wisconsin defense for TCU's first touchdown of the game, but nothing stays long enough for me to get it into pixels.

It was the perfect day, Jan. 1, 2011. I watched the Rose Parade live--something I've always wanted to do--with my family and then stood as the TCU football team fulfilled one of my lifetime fantasies. (And, yes, I do mean lifetime. This was a decades-long fantasy, something I'd played out in the back yard as a kid and dreamed about driving to work a decade ago.) TCU winning the Rose Bowl wasn't a dream. Dreams can come true, although they rarely do. It was a fantasy. It was impossible. It literally could not happen. And then it did.

Why it happened isn't important. What's important is that, as the clock ticked down on the 97th Rose Bowl, I experienced a euphoria the likes of which I had never felt before. Oh, I've had better and more significant moments in my life. But this feeling was unique. And Jan. 2, 2011 really was the perfect day. I loved my wedding day, loved the day my wife defended her PhD dissertation, loved the day my son was born (although I was totally exhausted and sleeping in the hospital, so I don't know how much I actually enjoyed that particular day).

Sunup to sundown, though, I've never had a better day than New Year's Day 2011. I was with family and friends. I was in Southern California. I went to the Rose Parade. I watched TCU win the Rose Bowl. We went out afterward, my family, my friends and I, and celebrated with colossal margaritas (actual name--actual cost: $18) and Mexican food. (See the completely unedited photo above--I'm kind of in mid-Frog hand sign there.) It was magical, as in movie-script, Disney-style, everybody-tears-up-at-the-end magical. (Speaking of tears, there's a whole 'nother post in me somewhere about the end of the Rose  Bowl, the happiest scene I've ever seen in my life. Red Sox fans, this was our 2004. Let's just put it that way.)

The problem, of course, is that every day since the perfect day has seemed just a little, well, imperfect. I'm not complaining. I love my family; I like my job, and I'm blessed to be where I am in life. All I'm saying is that I didn't want the Rose Bowl to end. (Well, actually, I did--but only so we could finally win it.) I didn't want to leave stadium after the game, and I was hardly the only one who hung around. I didn't want Jan. 1, 2011 to end. I still don't. But it's over.

We have mounds of snow here in suburban Boston five feet high. We have more snow on the way. That doesn't help. Wintertime blues are hitting me hard right now. But I have BC hockey tickets, and Bruins tickets, and tickets to a Celtics game...and friends, and family and all sorts of other positive distractions all around me. That's all good, wonderful.

What I don't have is the intense buildup to the experience of a lifetime, or the continuous high of Jan. 1, 2011. And that's what I want back. I've got four t-shirts, a commemorative book, the game in iTunes (and coming on DVD), two baseball caps, my game ticket in a plastic Rose Bowl lanyard, a felt pennant, lots of pictures and video I took myself, and very fresh memories.

But I can't get that feeling back, that euphoria. I've never been addicted to anything (nor have I ever been a drug user at all, really), but this must be what it feels like to come down off of some really powerful drug. At least I remember where I was and what I was doing when I got "high." But the hangover, the withdrawal, is still nasty. It's hitting me hard. Of course, it was all totally worth it, though. Totally worth it. Fantasies don't come true every day. I don't suppose that I'm speechless anymore, but that's all I can think of to say--and it doesn't even begin to express everything I'm thinking.

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