Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Travels with Kevin Part 12: Enjoying the Saturday Night Lights in Austin, Texas

After my relaxing journey to Harrisonburg, Virginia, the next stop was to Austin, Texas the main reason for all of my recent travels.  I went to Austin to celebrate the wedding of Colleen Hughbank (now Palomaa) and Eric Palomaa.  I met Colleen when we went to graduate school together; she and I bonded over our extra sweet tooth, and through taking her workout classes.  This was one of the first weddings where I felt involved behind the scenes, I was not in the wedding, but Colleen was so awesome and included myself and a couple other friends in all of the festivities.  Getting to celebrate with her new husband Eric and have some bourbon was also an incredible treat.  Both of their family and friends were incredibly fun, and the wedding was incredibly memorable.

This was not only my first wedding that made me feel a part of everything, but it was also my first trip to the Lone Star State of Texas.  I had always vowed never to visit the state, mainly because of own close minded perception.  Although I did not get to explore much Austin seemed to be a beacon of hope in this great sea of red.  All the bridal party and groomsmen went downtown together the night before the wedding partying and drinking on 6th street, but there was something else that caught my eye on our drive to the game that truly symbolizes the culture of Texas, football.

Driving past the Darrell K. Texas Memorial Stadium, and seeing the Texas Longhorns playing the West Virginia Mountaineers under the Saturday night lights at this massive stadium was like nothing I had ever seen before.  Growing up in the north, specifically upstate New York there is no real allegiance to college sports the way there is in the south.  Going to graduate school in Ohio was my first experience with the college football obsession.  Ohioans have a strong love for their Ohio State Buckeyes.  Most of the wedding party was from Texas, and their obsession with watching the game was evident.  Most of these folks were raised in a culture where football was king.

This is no exaggeration, and film and television may have embellished a tad with movies like Varsity Blues, I feel as thought the film/television series Friday Night Lights had it right!  There is a center spirituality that exists within the culture of Texas.  These two quotes below resonated with me about just how important football is to the people of this town:

"I'd heard about Texas football and how much of a religion it is, but to go to Odessa and experience it first-hand is something different than just hearing about it." - Jay Hernandez

"Sectional football games have the glory and the despair of war, and when a Texas team takes the field against a foreign state, it is an army with banners." - John Steinbeck

I love Steinbeck's words they are poetic, almost lyrical proving just how serious this game is to the people of this state.  Throughout the television series Friday Night Lights, you get a feeling for the connections people make through this game, and just how it can help or hurt relationships.  Who is starting?  What play are you running?  What do I do to guide my team to victory?  Each of these sentiments is not just something Coach Taylor had input on, but from his wife to the mayor everyone talks this man's ear off about the big game.

What an honor to experience an aspect of Texas culture, maybe next time I will actually see a game!

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