We met at a sports bar on Franklin Street yesterday afternoon to watch the Carolina/Duke game and, of course, root wholeheartedly for Carolina. I'd just gotten some Carolina gear, a t-shirt (I have gym shorts too but I'm not wearing those out to the bar, no thank you) and was proudly sporting it as Katey, Carissa, Kelly, Justin and I grabbed a corner of space and ordered some buckets of beer and also some beers that were in glasses as big as buckets. We were wearing flip-flops, it was just warm enough for them, that kind of day. I don't know if it was the weather, the buckets, the fact that it was Sunday and the end to a great weekend, but I started caring like I've never cared before about the game and who won. Since Justin and so many of our friends are involved somehow with UNC, that's always the natural choice, but when it gets down to it I just start to think about basketball in general terms. I'm going to watch "basketball" but really am going out to socialize. This game was better than any other I'd seen, with Carolina getting the two needed points just as the last seconds were counted down, just as the bar was getting ready to explode or sink into a terrible depression. People were on chairs and saying "fuck you" to the television. People were holding their breath and making friends and collectively loving and hating life with each passing moment.
But we won and the bar exploded. People erupted, a bell was rung loudly and for a long time and I screamed and screamed. We paid our bills and got out on Franklin to see cars driving slowly down the road beeping their horns, people giving hi-fives to strangers and cheering and general happy chaos. We chose a bar and waited for all our friends to gather so we could have a proper victory celebration. They arrived and beers were bought and total strangers got involved. We watched the local news on television. They showed pictures of just down the street from where we had settled. A mass of fans had started bonfires and were chanting. It was a party in the street and we kept saying, "We've got to go there!" but then someone would order a drink or another friend would join the group and we realized we were happy where we were, or, if we didn't really realize it, that very fact caused us to stay.
It was a huge feeling, being so elated about something I just learned to really care about, and I don't know quite what it is. Being happy that a team wins a game is an interesting phenomenon. Somehow you get personally involved - personally hurt if they don't make it, and personally uplifted when they do. And connected. When the game was over and we had just finished our yelling session and were wrapping things up at the first bar, an inebriated young man talked with us while paying his bill. "This," he yelled, "this feeling is BETTER THAN ANY DRUG!" He didn't really mean the beer, so his point was well taken.
At the end of the night J drove Kelly and Carissa back to our place and I claimed I wanted to stay out for a while. Ten minutes later I called him, having changed my mind. I was hungry and tired. I'd been out all weekend it seemed, and the weekend had come to a very fulfilling end. We were all asleep by 10.
The weekend's activities provided some unwavering truths: I have a wonderful guy, this will be a good week to take it easy, and I have proved myself worthy to wear my new t-shirt.