Attending a High School football game is one of my most favorite things in the world to do. (Right behind going to Broadway shows and attending concerts.) I’ve never known a ton about football; actually, I’ve pretty much had to learn brand new positions when my brothers switched because there’s no way I could ever remember every position’s job. But I probably care more about the outcome than most people who attend.
Friday night, I got to cheer on my little brother in (possibly) the last football game I’ll ever watch him in (but hopefully not). I didn’t let myself think about that in the stands though because I knew I wouldn’t be able to compose myself. Instead, I just cheered until I no longer had a voice. Afterwards, I forced Rhett to take a bunch of pictures and congratulated him on his two sacks of the night.
Every time I go back to the 712, I want to stay there forever. I want to uproot my entire life and move back. I want to become a teacher and teach at my favorite school in the world, and I want to spend my life cheering on every team that AHSTW offers – football, basketball, speech, everything. I love that little corner of the United States more than I could ever love a place.
If it weren’t for that school and those people, my siblings and I wouldn’t be who we are today. I didn’t know that in High School. In High School, I hated it. I wanted to move as far away as I could possibly get and never come back. I wanted to run away (which I did), but I had no intentions of visiting or ever speaking to those people again. I wanted to start brand new and clear my slate of Southwest Iowa.
That didn’t work out for me (clearly). Instead, I moved away, and I realized that it really wasn’t as bad as I thought. I live in a big city now with a bunch of people who think that Iowa is a place where small-town people live who have no dreams and no aspirations. They think Iowa is filled with people who aren’t educated and spend their entire lives “just” farming. They think I should love Seattle more than I should love a land filled with corn and genuine people.
But that will never happen. When we got to the field Friday night, my eyes filled with tears because the farmer hadn’t harvested the corn that’s in the field directly behind the football field. As we watched the boys play, we also watched the sun go down over a beautiful field of corn. That doesn’t sound that great to people out here who have rainforests and oceans. But to me, it was home.
It makes me wonder if High Schools in Seattle have that same feeling of home to go back to when they graduate. Do they have teachers who will sit and talk to them for five hours even after they’ve been graduated for four years? Do they walk into the football stands and have parents stop them and ask them how they’re doing? Do they get to go back and take random tours of the school just because everyone remembers them?
I’m sure they do. I’m sure every High School in America is like that (or at least I hope). But sometimes I wonder if it’s just Midwest people who attend the kind of High School that I’m so proud of.
Last April, I was sitting at a Mexican restaurant on Bainbridge Island (which is similar to a small town – just a really rich one) with a friend. It was prom night, and it’s tradition for the students to parade around the town in their cars while the parents and community come outside and watch them. When the prom parade was nearing the Mexican restaurant, everyone cheered and ran outside. They stood there for a bit and watched the kids drive by, then they went back inside to continue eating.
“It’s funny to me that everyone in this town cares so much about high schoolers,” my friend said as soon as they came back in.
“Really? Everyone in my community would be sitting at Grand March watching everyone walk down the aisle together while cheering and taking pictures.”
She was blown away. She didn’t come from a community that was obsessed with high schoolers and all of their activities. She came from one that expected you to do well, graduate, and contribute to society, but that’s all.
It made me think a lot about my High School career, and how different it would’ve been if we did activities that the adults didn’t care about – if the whole community didn’t travel to different towns on Friday nights for football games. How would that have cultivated different graduates?
I’m not sure how it would’ve changed things, but I know that I don’t ever want to find out. I may never move back to Southwest Iowa, but you can bet your booty that I can’t wait to throw my kids in school in a teeny-tiny-town. They might hate it, or they might love it; either way, they’ll thank me later.
“I’m so proud of where I came from, this town is who I am. And the way that I was raised up, made me a better man.” – Dig Your Roots by Florida Georgia Line