That’s about all I can say about my Tarheels, who won their game against NC State last night. If we’d lost, it would have been FOUR in a row we’d dropped, and that would have just been really hard to take. I mean, I know we are a young team, and it’s a rebuilding year and all that. But still. Four in a row is a lot more than three. Especially in basketball.
I know a lot of people reading this might be thinking, “Who cares about basketball?” And I can tell you that I get that. Because I don’t get baseball, or even football, unless it’s the Superbowl, which is really more about the commercials and food than the game for me. I don’t even really like NBA basketball. It’s just the college games, ACC specifically—that’s the Atlantic Coast Conference, where the Tarheels play—that I care about. Okay, well, care might be a bit too timid a term. I’m kind of crazy for it.
That said, I am not as crazy as I used to be. As a kid, and then in high school and college and even when I was working at the Burrito, I lived and breathed Carolina basketball. I waited all year for the season to begin, scoured the sports pages, knew stats and players and everything else. I’d wake up on the morning of big games, especially the Duke ones, with a nervous feeling in my stomach, like I was actually PLAYING and not just watching and wholly invested. I think a lot of this is because I grew up here in Chapel Hill. Basketball is just part of who we are here. It’s the one thing that pulls the entire town—folks out in the country, in town itself, transplants from other places, NC natives—together, gives us something big and wonderful in common, even during a not-so-great season. I can remember where I was when we (and here, we always use the WE when it comes to our team) won every championship. I will never forget, way back in 1982, listening to the roar of Franklin Street from my bedroom window as the town celebrated…and our house was, like, three miles away. I remember shrieking in a restaurant when Dean Smith walked in, totally embarrassing myself and my husband. It was like a reflex: I couldn’t help myself. I almost ran my car off the road when I saw Roy Williams jogging near UNC hospital, and I am enough of a geek that I went up and bothered both Bill Gutheridge and Phil Ford for autographs when I saw them out in town. I have a feeling, though, they were used to it.
There are a lot of things I love about living here. It’s why I’ve stayed, made my home here, am raising my girl here. A lot of people think it’s ridiculous to live in your hometown, that you’ll never get to grow and be anybody else than who you were. For me, that hasn’t been the case. I mean, I’m doing what I dreamed of doing—writing books—all those years ago in that same bedroom a few miles from campus. I get to have my grown-up life, and my memories, and my basketball, all at once. Also, yesterday, my daughter and I bumped into my dad at the grocery store. I mean, how great is that? Almost as great as living in a place you love, with a team you’re, okay, a bit too crazy about. Who just won their first game out of the last four. Whew.
All right, I’ll wrap up my little Chapel Hill love letter now. Thanks for indulging me, even if you have no idea what I’m talking about. If you do, though—you lived here, or went to school here, or just have a good memory from here—I think this clip below says it better than I just did, or could. If you’re a Chapel Hill person, or even if you’re not, click on it and turn it up. I’m talking to you, Melissa Walker!