How can words truly express what this trip to the Rose Bowl has been like for me? There is no experience
in my life that even comes close to the emotions... the adventures... the magic of this trip. As we
drove around the city for those 6 days, my mind kept going back to my father.
My Dad and I had a fantastic time in LA last year... not knowing it would one of the last times I'd ever see him
and certainly the most important time I'd ever spent with him. This entire football season, I was thinking
of my father... what it would have meant for him to be there for it all. The fact that he was a
USC graduate just adds an ironic twist to the whole experience.
Starting as far back as the Ohio State game in September (which I had the fortune of attending), I felt
there was something magical about this season. That Dad... wherever he is... was lending a hand. Even
as I write these words, I tear up. At each stage... after each victory... I thought about Dad. Even
without speaking, my brother and I would give each other knowing looks... Dad was with us.
I didn't know how I would react to returning to LA... to the site of my last great
experience with my father. Thankfully, I was able to really enjoy the trip... the people we met...
the things we did... the unforgettable moments all cataloged on this site. When Dad and I went last
year, it was really about us... spending quality time that we'd never done before. But this trip with
Jonn was more about the experience... and I can never thank him enough for making it what is was for me.
I didn't cry until moments after the game ended. In those first few moments, the tears weren't there. I was
just enjoying it and soaking it in... until thoughts of my Dad returned. There's no possible way I can
really describe the emotion of the moment. Joy... relief... sadness. I cried on Jonn's shoulder as
well as Andy's. I held my hook 'em up high in the air and sang the Eyes through my tears. I never
wanted it to end.
To the uninitiated, such football passion seems insane. At times, I even wonder about it myself. But for
me, UT football is more than just football. It is the representation of my formative years. I graduated
from UT in 2001 having undergone a transformation of my self. I have developed a connection to the football
team that in some way represents my own success... my own life.
I've been so privileged to be able to experience this football season. It was only through my father's
donation a month before he passed which allowed us to get tickets to the games. It was only because
of my father's old business connections that we were able to afford airfare and car rental. And it was
only because of my father that I was able to have the distinct pleasure of attending both Texas
Rose Bowl victories.
Huge thanks to Mack Brown, Vince Young and the entire Texas football team, Deloss Dodds and the athletic
staff, and especially for my late father, without whom none of this would have been possible.
I am sitting on my sofa in my den with huge bombastic music playing –hopeful for inspiration to write this epilogue. The idea of the epilogue is so I can have a voice. I have been putting this off for several days now, maybe not wanting to admit that this adventure, this small part of my life, is behind me. It’s important for me that I have some closure and at the same time I do not want to fully admit that it is over.
My job now is to reflect over this trip and sum it up in so many words. What I have noticed myself saying to people the most and what I have realized is that this trip was not so much about being in CA or even being so very fortunate to be at the Rose Bowl, as it was more about the people I met and the experiences I had and how we all shared these experiences with each other
What stands out most is how great it has felt to be a part of something, to be accepted and to feel included. I experienced an overwhelming feeling of belonging something that I wonder if I missed out on by not going to college. Walking around CA wearing orange and horns made of fabric on my cowboy hat – I quickly learned was a great ice breaker. It reminds me of walking my cute dog or the person holding an infant child in their hands and how complete strangers feel free to walk up and start talking to you. There was this amazing electric feeling of camaraderie and friendliness toward me. I found it easy to just be myself and not be concerned with trying to fit in or put on false fronts so that the “in crowd” or “LA pretty folks” would like me. It did not matter to me. I was there to enjoy myself and not to impress. I was there to learn and to experience life. My job was to be in the moment, to take in everything I could and to be present. This is not an easy task for me and takes a good amount of concentration and a lot of reminding myself to be present. It’s really a two sided sword in that to be in the moment I have to keep telling myself that this is all really happening and to not let the part of me telling myself to be in the moment get in the way of being in the moment.
The amount of people I met and talked too confirms my belief that most people are good. That everyone has something to say and something to share and that I can learn from that and that in turn will help me grow and understand myself better.
People in CA were nice for the most part, however there is nothing like us Texans, there is truly something special about the people from Texas and I am proud to be one.
I would not have had this life experience without the friendship of Jimmy and his family. I am completely and totally thankful for his invitation to be a part of his family and I am thankful for being a part of this huge family of people in orange.
As the saying goes… “Live the Dream”. Well I did. I can now check that off my list and move on.