When my now 14-year-old brother texts me and asks me indirectly if I will go to his football game in the town 30 minutes from my office, I clear my afternoon schedule, press through my final meeting of the day and the myriad of questions that stack up when people see me gathering my things, I make arrangements to edit night stories from home, and I bolt early - the first day in six months I've done so.
I'm a planned 30 minutes late. I have to remember what number jersey he wears (10, the number between Colt McCoy and Jordan Shipley - if you don't know them, Google them), then I find him and yell his name in a non-obnoxious sort of way to make sure he sees me. He waved, and I waved back.
His team was up 6 to 0, then the Hornets scored bringing it 8 to 6 after a two-point conversion.
He was standing on the sidelines, but his coach put him in as quarterback on what I think was third down, if I remember right. He had a passing play on fourth down, and two plays later, on second or third down, the ball was snapped:
...he faked a hand-off right, but held onto the ball and ran left...
....and ran 40 yards for the winning touchdown....
I'd set my camera down so I could stand up and cheer for him. Later, I found out he told Mom last night that he hadn't scored a TD yet, but that today would be the day.
And it was.
He strutted off the field in what I imagine was a great moment for him. His teammates were yelling and clobbering him. His chest puffed out a little. His eyes didn't divert as he walked to the cooler and got a drink, but on his way back to the cluster of teammates, his eyes searched the stands and landed on me.
Beneath his helmet, his mouth split open in an incredible grin.
I matched it and simultaneously tears stung my eyes.
Moments later, it started raining, which is a big deal in Texas.
They won! And after the game, after he'd stripped all his pads and gear, he strode off the field, through the gate into the bleachers, and he hugged me. And I hugged his wet, sweaty little self.
I told him I was proud of him, he smiled. I asked him about food, he said they'd stop on their way back to our town to get some, but first he had to watch another game.
He hugged me again. Grinned.
And I left.