Friday night lights

September 27, 2006 at 6:49 am (favs, past)

On my way to my parents’ house last weekend, I saw the lights of my high school’s football stadium. The game was underway, the air smelled of fall, and suddenly I was 15 again. Out of nowhere that feeling washed over me, as intense as a dream that seems real even once you’re awake.

Like so many things in my high school life, I had a love/hate relationship with football. It dominated high school social structure in a completely archaic way, even though swimming and water polo – even baseball – provided more scholarships. It was our own little manifestation of the fading line between church and state when the whole team gathered for a Jesus-type prayer before the game. It helped stupid people breed. And yet, I loved going to the games. Friday nights in the stands meant freedom before a driver’s license. It meant sitting next to that boy, sharing his jacket, and running up and down the stairs to give your friends a word for word account of the conversation. It meant high school dances where my friends and I would take over the dance floor, then stay up all night talking, squished three or four to a bed. It was long-sleeved knit shirts from J. Crew, Eternity for Men, and Victoria’s Secret pear lotion. That memory encapsulated the overly-dramatized, delicious innocence of high school.

I never wanted to be a cheerleader – no self-respecting dancer shouts “Go! Fight! Win!” mid-routine – and I never wanted to date football players (*ahem* water polo), but somehow I got sucked into the rush of the games. Some palpable social pressure, that desperate desire to be liked, to be accepted, to be admitted, keyed into my insecurities and told me silently that I should care. And I did it well. Of course I played devil’s advocate whenever possible, mocking my high school boyfriend’s devotion to practices and his Powerbar consumption on gamedays, and sitting in a movie theater somewhere in Georgia nominating cheerleaders for Most Likely to Wear a Whipped Cream Bikini.

Looking at high school football through the lens of adulthood makes the foolishness of it all painfully clear and I can’t help but roll my eyes at shows like Two-a-Days and Friday Night Lights. But for a split second last weekend I was in a darkened stadium with blue glow sticks raining down on the field and Queen playing on the loudspeakers…and I was positively high with school spirit.



  1. Anonymous said,

    Absolutely fantastic Sara. It is definately a conflict of emotions when you role by the HS. Your glad it’s over and hated so many of the trivialities of it all, but there are definately some feelings of deep “high”. I assume that happens with any phase of life (towns you lived in, college, etc.).

  2. BS said,

    I can’t say I miss fall in New England this year (I’m too wrapped up in enjoying the lack of fall in California), but I definitely feel that way about college on occasion.

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