I woke up Friday morning with the same feeling that I assume my family endured knowing that they were preparing to travel to watch me play in college. Only this time, I was on the other side, not mentally preparing myself for the game ahead. Not traveling the day before the game keeping to a schedule making sure me and my teammates arrived on time. Not envisioning how I was going to play and seeing my family in the stands cheering me on.
This is the process I imagine my brother Sl1m was going through, taking an early flight from Colorado to land in South Carolina for their game at Clemson University. I got up before Amara wanting to shower peacefully, I thought about my times getting ready for the game. It was a surreal feeling knowing that he had done this countless times for me, I was as excited as they had been to go watch him play professional rugby.
While playing, I never got to experience this part of the sport, the spectator. Having to get my shift covered with the City and letting the school know that I was going to be out so that we could leave early. The game wasn't until Saturday at 11am so my dad was insistent on leaving the day before so we wouldn't have to rush in the morning. Knowing our family, we rarely left at the time we said we would, always running back in the house to grab something we forgot.
Being avid road warriors, I've had a lot of experiences getting ready for a trip. This time was the first I had Amara with me which added an extra element to getting ready. When she woke giving her a bath and feeding her knowing that babies can't wait until we got on the road. Which is what my family did a lot, grabbing food once we made it to the highway to help get us out the house faster. I used to have to drive Amelia all the way from Charleston to Raleigh and back which is four hours, that was my first experience on the road with my kids.
I remember growing up and always looking forward to road trips, the big cooler, the Astro van, making bologna and cheese sandwiches, and my dad lactose intolerance acting up. Cutting the cheese and having to hang our heads out the window, I don't think it's as bad now. Mine took a turn for the worst while the world was on pause for the Coronavirus, I had tubs of ice cream back to back and my body crumbled because of it. I still can't eat ice cream and can only consume small amounts of cheese, butter, and yogurt.
In my opinion, the close proximity over hours of travel is what made our family as close as we are today. We didn't have a choice, breathing each other's air and trying to stretch out overlapping legs while nodding off on our siblings shoulders. If we let them, I remember times being shrugged off but my parents made sure we all carried our own pillows especially for the long trips. I remember my parents driving us from Rochester, N.Y to Florida, a 24 hour trip.
Looking back now, I'm not sure how they managed with just the two of them. The longest I drove was 18 hours one way, helping my older brother get to Oklahoma from Raleigh, North Carolina. It wasn't too bad, except it was a boring drive especially going through the flat plains of Arkansas, there wasn't anything to see. That's half of the trip, getting to see new sights, people and places I've never experienced. My parents always made sure to tell us to look up when it was something interesting, one activity we did as a family was identifying the various license plates. Sometimes, when it was far away we would try to guess based on previous plates we've seen and colors.
Per usual, we left about an hour and a half later than planned and still had to pick up my sisters significant other on the way in Greensboro. I started off in the front seat and my dad was driving and Amara was steady calling my name from behind the driver's seat. She hates being away from me, it makes me feel so loved.
We prayed over our trip and conversed on various topics, the lingo changing drastically from when we were children. Addressing the multitude of mass shootings and the lack of Christ in the world, praying for the lost souls as my dad had to dodge wooden crates that fell off a car a couple lengths ahead. One driver was on the side of the road checking under her car making sure it wasn't damaged, I wasn't sure it was new but I could tell it was her baby.
Amara was good for most of the trip, she has been to Baltimore with her mother so she wasn't unaccustomed to road trips but she likes her freedom. She reminds me of myself, wanting to be self sufficient and willing to speak to any and everybody. I love her vivacity, it'll allow her to attract the attention of employers and everyday people. I often wonder what she will be when she grows up, she seems to like basketball since I'm always having her watch and got her a hoop to play on.
That's my hope at least.
The five hour tip took seven because of all the traffic near the Charlotte area, we were at a stand still for almost 30 minutes straight. That isn't considering the off and on traffic that we experienced before and after Charlotte as well, it was good that we left the day before. We knew that Sl1m would be there Friday night and wanted to arrive early so we could spend some time with him when time allotted.
My dad, being the planner that he is, got the same hotel as my brother so that we wouldn't have to travel to see him. I remember him doing the same for me when I played, when he could, since sometimes we stayed in some pretty nice hotels. Definitely out of my price range, even though my dad could afford it doesn't mean it's the best option. He also used to get deals with Marriott Hotels when he had a connection, but she recently left her job.
Sl1m surprised us by popping up at me and my sisters future husband hotel room, we chopped it up and walked over to the rest of the family to fellowship together. I felt like I hadn't seen him in awhile, and was glad to embrace him again wishing him luck on the game ahead. We had a bunch of laughs as our personalities are bound to show when he is around, always the life of the party I try to keep up with him.
Unfortunately he hurt a muscle in his chest as well as got his knee taken out from under him, having to sit out the rest of the game I could tell the pain in his face and the hurt of having to sit with his family there. I understand the sentiment, wanting to show out in front of the family but I hope he knows that we were glad to be in the midst. It seems like he really enjoys it and undoubtedly will be playing for years ahead, we'll be seeing a lot more of him on that rough field.
I relished in the fact of being on the spectator side of a sport, I can't wait for future events. He is always good at anything he does, I can't wait to see how far he takes rugby. Hopefully he can transition back to football like he wants, with his faith in God I'm sure he will. Amara loved watching her uncle play too, calling out to him from the sidelines in between running around in the open field.
What sport will my daughters play?
Amelia and Amara, daddy loves you.