Saturday, January 21, 2012

November 17, 2006

News of JoePa's health brought about this post, for one reason or another.

They say men are children. I know that's how I was that day.

The day had an ominous feel to it. I woke up in my dorm in Mary Markley Hall in 2320 Second Elliot Hall. I rubbed the sand from my eyes and climbed down the bunkbed in that tiny dorm cell, went and brushed my teeth in the community bathrooms, and finally walked out into the Autumn air of another Ann Arbor morning. I walked through the picturesque campus - underneath the rust-colored leaves drooping from oak trees that had seen generations of students come and go, past the Hogwarts-esque brick dorm towers on the Hill, into the throngs of students bustling with weekend energy across the Diag - on the way to my "History of the 1960's" discussion in Mason Hall. All the while my mind was focused on one thing, and one thing only: Number One versus Number Two. My first Michigan - Ohio State game of my college career (little did I know how that would turn out, I had yet to be jaded by those soul-testing '07 and '08 seasons). I was slightly hungover, but this was back in the day where I could play ten rounds of beer pong and wake up and still make it to my 8:30 classes. Before class started I picked up a copy of the Michigan Daily and read about the historical implications of the impending game that was approximately 26 hours away.

It was the pinnacle of my life thus far. I was living the only real dream I had ever had: getting in to the University of Michigan and watching my beloved Wolverines run onto that gridiron on Saturday afternoons. The friends I had made in 2nd Elliot Hall in Markley and I were inseperable. We drank about 5 times a week and had a blast exploring our new world - Ann Arbor. My world had opened up; while only months prior I was lamenting the narrow-mindedness of my small town, my circle of friends had suddenly stretched into Grand Rapids, Pittsburgh, and Philly.

House parties were a new world to us. Girls were everywhere. I had no worries about finding a girl to settle down with, about finding a stable career, about any serious problems in my life. We had discovered the glorious world of tailgating, a wondrous blend of my two favorite things in the world: alcohol and Michigan football. Better yet, we had yet no witness a Michigan loss during our college careers, as the Wolverines were a perfect 11-0 heading into the Game.

My GSI rambled on about the Black Panther Party, or Women's Rights, or Woodstock, or Dylan. I don't know which, because all I could think about during that discussion section was what it might mean if Michigan would beat Ohio State the next day. My life would be perfect.

I walked out of class, through the diag, over the bridge and back to my dormitory, probably walking on airs with giddy anticipation for the weekend that would define my life thusfar. I walked into my hall and chatted with the guys who had just become my family away from home, my best friends. I stepped into my room, decorated with a unique combination of Michigan paraphenalia and alcohol posters that were cool when you were a freshman. And then it happened.

I don't really remember how I saw it. Maybe it was a website. Maybe it was that little ticker across the bottom of ESPN. But I saw it clearly. "Bo Schembechler has passed away".

I remember vaguely walking to the room next door to me, where the one person who I would consider rivaled me in Michigan fandom (ironically his name was Zac), lived. I think we both kind of looked at eachother in disbelief. We didn't know whether to hug eachother or what. After that I walked around in a bit of a daze. I decided I needed some fresh air.

I went for a long walk that Friday afternoon. I decided to walk through the graveyard adjacent to Mary Markley Hall (little did I know that would be where Bo would be buried). I thought about home. I thought about my childhood. I started to cry, and I didn't really know why. I never knew Bo, never was a fan during his coaching tenure. But it was like a grandfather had passed away. I looked at the tombstones around me and just felt sad.

It would be too sentimental to say that was the moment my childhood truly ended, but things were certainly different after that - the easy-going world around me slowly started to disappear.

1 comment:

  1. Yep that was the day i decided to go to Michigan... Bo, osu, usc, app state and oregon