There are few things more influential on our lives than those early years between childhood and adulthood, those years when we become aware of the larger world even as we discover the things that thrill us and struggle with those that cause us pain.
When I look back there are a lot of things that stand out. Good things and bad. Excitement and dread. Venturing out and withdrawing.
Through it all, there was one thing rarely sullied by the drama that so often made a mess of everything else: Iowa Hawkeye football.
Maybe it’s just the forgiving lens of memory, but something about game day was sacred. We forgot about jobs, homework, and struggling marriages and we focused on football.
There was lots of yelling, but always at the TV. Especially at Michigan! There were smiles all around, cursing at bad plays, and food. The food! Mom made a potato salad as mean as any linebacker and dad could make that Weber grill serve up a T-Bone that sizzled like a ball thrown on a quick slant.
Now I’m [REDACTED] years older and things have changed. College, marriage, writing a novel, and becoming a Minnesota Gopher fan just scratches the surface. One of the constants through it all has been that fall Saturdays still hold a glimpse of that same naive wonder I used to feel as a child. Now, football season is the one time of year when I set my coveted writing Saturdays aside and make my way to campus, or sit down in front of the TV.
Especially this week. It’s Minnesota vs Iowa, with Floyd of Rosedale (#ProtectThePig!) and another year of bragging rights at stake.
This year my (not so) little brother and his wife are coming over. The poor kid is still an Iowa fan and while we may not agree on who should win, there will be smiles, curses, beer, food, and fun. And who knows, maybe there will even be some potato salad.
I’ll write on Sunday, when the Gophers are 5-0.