I want to get up at a ridiculous hour and drive a ridiculous distance over familiar roads on Game Day.
I want to stroll past the Lion Shrine, the mall, the gates at Allen Street. I want to hear the fight song ring out from Old Main. I want to have a tea at Cafe 210 and walk along College Avenue, popping in and out of stores and a sea of Penn State paraphernalia.
I want to smell fall and football in the crisp, autumn air.
I want to stand on a street corner with twenty-five Penn Staters, waiting for the light to change. I want to hop on the Loop. I want to see the trees that line campus and the stones that built the classrooms. I want a Joegie. And DP Dough. And an Original Sin. And a Baby’s milkshake.
I want stand in the midst of the HUB’s hustle and bustle. I want to complain how my favorite store, bar, restaurant, building, tree, or pathway is no longer the same.
I want to tailgate with new friends or former teachers or old roommates, and get overwhelmed by the energetic hubbub on the way to the stadium. I want to watch the players’ buses arrive. Buy a program for the roster and sneak over to the student entrance to snag a shaker. I want scream WE ARE at the top of my lungs and sing all the gosh darn words of our alma mater. I want to tear up a little when James Franklin, not JoePa, leads the team out of the tunnel.
I want to wait for hours at the gate with my sister, Greg, Becky, Andrew, and whoever else got up that early for front row seats. I want to sit in the front row of the old senior student section, near the 40 yard line, and hear my friend Pete give the Blue Band a silly pep talk before their show at halftime. I want to stand for every last minute of the game, until my legs are numb and they run out of hot chocolate and the victory bell rings. I want my parents to tell me they saw us on TV again, with our faces painted with paw prints.
I want to doodle in my notebook while trying to pay attention in class in the Forum. I want to run-hike up the hill in the blinding wind and freezing cold, bundled to my eyeballs, so I’m not late. I want to stay up all night studying in the computer lab and sleep the next day away.
I want to wait in line for the biggest, tastiest strawberry ice cream my childhood eyes have ever seen. I want my dad to take us to College Pizza and tell us the story about how it got started. I want my mom to let us pick out Penn State school supplies and new t-shirts. I want to run into my swimming instructor and think she is the coolest person on the planet because she’s a real Penn State student.
To paraphrase Jay Paterno: This is part of my life’s poetry, my youth incarnate, my heart swelled with the deep feeling that makes college and college football so unique.
I hope you were able to visit Penn State this weekend in person or in happy memories. I can’t wait to come home again.