The memories are fuzzy because they're from so long ago, but I was young, real young at the time, I was smitten, and I knew it. We had a perfect few months together – it literally could not have gone any better -- and one magical night later, I was hooked. My friends all said I'd grow out of it, and heck, I would have wondered myself if not for what I felt in my heart.
Half a life later, and I'm still hooked, still all yours.
We've had our initial honeymoon phase, and more than our fair share of ups and downs ever since. These last few years in particular have been more down than up, and it's been rough, real rough, don't get me wrong. I know you've hurt, and I've hurt alongside you every step of the way, and maybe every bit as much.
But fall is in full bloom again, hope is in the air, and, after this past weekend, I feel like our relationship is turning a corner, perhaps permanently. Maybe I had become jaded, but you sure snapped me out of that after one of our best dates in years. I'm all yours. Be gentle, will you?
Come to think of it, though I haven't always shown it, trying as I might to ignore you out of hurt pride, I've been all yours all along. I don't know if you know this, but I literally track time and recall life events by moments we share together. My first days of Stanford, back in Michigan in the days right after 9/11, even that time in China I stayed up the whole night to see you on the computer -- I remember spending all those times with you, and maybe I remember all those times because of you. We've travelled the country together, and I've cried with you and cried over you at lots of those stops along the way.
A lot of other guys point out your flaws, and they try to change you. (A lot of those guys also end up going for your big sister, which shows what kind of taste they have.) I know it's a touchy subject, and I know in your better moments you admit they make a valid point or two, but know that I like you just the way you are. A lot. And if and when change does come, I'll be here with you every step of the way.
I know distance is a killer in any relationship, and I know we're apart far too frequently. It's hard to watch you go away every year, and I'll admit that I get incredibly lonely without you around. But in those moments, I think about our future and think about all the great times we've had to make the days go by, and then, sure enough, you come back every year like clockwork. There's not a lot of certainty in this world, but every fall, you've always been there for me, and I know you always will be.
Oh, here's another thing I love about you: You keep reinventing yourself. It seems like every four, five years, I hardly know you anymore! You're not at all who you were just years ago, and I get to fall in love with you all over again.
Still, through it all, some constants remain. I always marvel at your ability to bring people together, how perfect you look at the beginning of each fall, and, of course, your ability to surprise me when I least expect it.
So maybe it was stupid machismo. Or maybe I was a boy too young to realize that life is all about finding those things that matter to you and holding on with all your heart. Whatever the case, I've never said this before, at least not publicly, and I hope you'll forgive me, because it's been far, far too long: I love you with all my heart. I really, truly do.
I love you, college football.
Are you fully subscribed to The Bootleg? If not, then you are missing out on all the top Cardinal coverage we provide daily on our award-winning website. Sign up today for the biggest and best in Stanford sports coverage with TheBootleg.com (sign-up)!