I thought I would start putting my thoughts on paper from this crazy decision to move across the country to a state in which I had only spent three days in my life; earlier this year.
In June I came to South Carolina to help out the site leader working with a company in Gaffney. It was June, a bit muggy, but otherwise I found a lot of very cool stuff to do during my three day trip. While I had not really considered moving prior to this trip, there was something inside of my head that said it might be something to consider. The though, however, was fleeting.
As most people who have read my work here know, I had quite the busy summer; an emotional one in which I watched first hand the rapid decline of my father. He succumbed to advanced liver disease in August and I spent the rest of the summer and early part of fall working through all of those emotions that follow the death of a loved one - and then football started.
So when this opportunity arose in early October, it was a quick decision. One of the deciding factors for me was my desire to be able to see a part of the nation in which I had not yet spent much time. My wife Leslie and I could explore some incredibly beautiful areas; but there was something else.
I told Leslie that she gets thirty-nine weekends of the year to explore; I get thirteen. Lucky thirteen. She asked why and I smiled a wry and crooked smile - 'football.'
I wanted to spend some time exploring the incredible football experience that is a defining portion of Southeast culture. People down here really care about their football. I had once thought I might spend a weekend every year checking out a different stadium by flying from Portland and using vacation to do so - sometimes even the best laid plans simply fail to reach fruition. There would always seem to be something else which would pop up and limit those opportunities. But if I lived here, it would be much more likely I would be able to make those trips.
So this is the long way of saying that I am going to write about my experiences at each stadium I visit. I have given myself one rule; I am not going to do this as a journalist covering teams; I am going to explore in a fashion I like to call organically. I am just going to drive into each town, find a parking spot and start wandering. I won't really know where that might lead until I arrive at each stadium. I could find myself tailgating with local fans; or finding a local hangout spot. I don't want to 'research' the death out of each experience because I think that would tend to force me into some filtered experience.
I will probably have to buy a ticket in advance to be sure I get one - and don't get gouged by scalpers around the stadium. That's the only rule, experience each stadium purely as an exploration as a college football fan.
I think that this is going to be a great way to meet some new people, talk college football, enjoy each schools unique fan experience and maybe learn something about myself in the process. Will it make me a better fan? A better writer? A better person? Those are difficult questions to answer. I think all of the aforementioned questions will be answered in the affirmative. I will surely be a much more well-rounded person; and I will get to talk with a lot of very well educated college football fans.
Next week I will recap my first experience of this adventure; a trip to Columbia, South Carolina and Williams-Brice Stadium.