After I got off work today, I got in my car, stopped at Target briefly, filled up my gas tank, and booked it back to Stillwater. When I got on I-35 around 4:35p, I was shocked to experience more traffic that usual “Oh,” I thought to myself, “Game day traffic.”
Today was the second home game for the Oklahoma State Cowboys, and the only Thursday night game. As I drove north towards Stillwater (where I live, and where OSU is), the traffic thinned out. Then I took the off-ramp onto State Highway 51 into Stillwater. About four miles out, the traffic became obscene. It was frustrating, because it was slow but never really fully came to a stop. I just had to keep my car running along. Under 5MPH.
20 minutes later, I had driven a stretch of land that usually takes two minutes. I hopped out of my car, ran into my apartment, threw on some jeans and was back out again. Taking back roads, I went to the house of one of the women in my LifeGroup. Yet as I drove across town I had to battle bad drivers and hordes of pedestrians covered in orange.
Finally, I pulled up. I parked. And I got out. I was late to the pre-game hang-out, and upset with myself. I could have done better. I could have left Edmond a bit earlier, I could have driven a bit faster, I could have tried the more roundabout way that would have definitely avoided traffic.
Too late. I’m already here. I’m uncertain of what to expect. A certain excitement tingles in – wherever emotions are felt. I enter the house and am greeted. A delicious pulled pork sandwich awaits me, and my stomach is satisfied with the deliciousness.
One of the members of our LifeGroup comes in as we’re getting ready to leave. “Do you all want a ride?” he asks, “I can fit you all in my truck.” My ears perk at the chance to ride in the back of a pick-up again. I jump in with four friends, the rest of our group gets in the cab of the truck.
The wind whips around us. One guy shares stories of standing in truck beds on the highway. I take pictures and videos. This moment is one I want to remember. So is the next. The cool wind and the bright sun. The air. The people.
We magically move past one sign that says “street closed” and the driver of the car pulls aside by the corner of the stadium. We all quickly hop out. As I jump from the back of the truck, all I can think of is “hardcore parkour!” – the line from The Office episode.
And there we are. Game day at Oklahoma State. An event that happens because of people who are mostly younger than me, and make more money than I ever will. Orange blankets everything in view as we move around the stadium to the right entrance. I follow blindly, taking pictures. It’s not just the students who have the school spirit. It’s the parents, the alumni, the brothers and sisters. It’s everyone – even people not associated with the university. The energy is high.
Then there’s the moment – we walk up to the gate. I pull out my ticket and my student ID. I hold them up for one guy who waves me through to the next guy. He glances at my ID, scans my ticket and nods. I continue walking. I am inside a college football stadium.
Several pictures were taken to commemorate the moment, then we headed up the stairs to find some seats. As we came out of the tunnel-ish-thing into the stadium I was amazed. I’ve seen the stadium before, and I see it from the outside all the time – the main green sticker parking lot is right by it – but just to be inside and see all those people wearing all that orange – absolutely incredible.
We watched all the pre-game stuff. Over and over again I was amazed. I kept thinking and wondering how I would be perceiving everything around me if I was an undergrad. I kept wondering how different my life would be if I had been able to go to a big school, with pomp, and pride, and name.
Don’t get me wrong – I am eternally proud of my undergraduate experience (Go Seawolves!) and would never give up those four years for anything. But there’s always that small part of me that wonders how my life would be if things had been different.
The power, energy and pride rippling through that stadium tonight was amazing. Further, being with my LifeGroup tonight really affirmed my choice to move to Oklahoma – I have days when I question and doubt – but tonight was amazing. I had so much fun chatting exchanging stories and talking about things to be done in Oklahoma – and we started building my Oklahoma Bucket List (things I want to do before I leave this state). Further, they were so kind and patient in explaining to me how football works, as each play was made.
We left before the end of the game, to avoid the crowd then hung out at the house we started at, munching on cookies and chips.
All-in-all, a fantastic evening!