I haven’t played basketball in seven years. But the national championship still makes me nervous.
I know a lot of enthusiastic fans. Let’s be honest, I live with some enthusiastic fans. You know, the kind who scream every time someone hits a three right as the shot clock winds down to zero. There’s lots of screaming during championship games in our house. And every time, our dog scrambles to her feet, half terrified & half annoyed that her nap got interrupted again.
I know the loud fans. But, amazingly, I’m not one.
When I watch a game, even after a career-ending injury & years off the court, I fall silent. I still get sucked into the world of shoes squeaking on glossy wood, of that deep breath before every foul shot, of hearing every word from the coach & none from the crowd. I remember every sweaty tussle for rebounds, every full-court sprint for the perfect lay-up, every hold-your-breath buzzer shot. In an instant, my mind is back in the team locker room. I remember how it feels, & my heart beats faster. There’s nothing more thrilling than a win. There’s nothing more devastating than a loss.
Although it’s been years since any of us have put on a jersey, watching basketball together will always be precious to my family. We’ve trained together, coached together, played together, cheered together, cried together. It’s part of who we are. It’s one of my favorite things about our little lifelong community. Loving something is fun. Loving something with people you love more is a treasure of the rarest kind.
I don’t even have cable anymore. My nights of watching basketball are rare, these days. The nights of piling on the couch with my family are even rarer. We grew up, moved away, scattered across cities & states. So every chance I get, I’ll sit silently, tensing up with every shot, while my dad wakes up the dog with his screams, my grandpa sleeps & my cousins heat up another plate of cheese fries. (Like, four plates in a night. Bless it all.)
If you’re fortunate enough to share what you love with who you love, hold on tight to those moments. Don’t let the screams & the endless cheese fries bother you. Just love your people. Celebrate the hours you get to spend piled on couches, bask in the quirks & the jokes & the endless snacks. I know I wouldn’t have it any other way.