Two Spartans on the Acela to D.C. During March Madness

The quiet car was dimly lit and silent, as advertised. Some chose to sleep.

I regret now that I did not follow suit but the Camp Cope records that’ve been in heavy rotation for over a month would never be prescribed as a cure for insomnia. So the concert played on through my earbuds. Plus, Twitter wasn’t going to scroll along on all by itself and the Mark Hartman photo spread in The National Magazine’s Feb/March issue had me dreaming anew of my own star turn inside Amtrak’s always impressive glossy someday. I was wide awake.

The forward thrust of Acela Train 2315 to Washington D.C. on Friday March 29, 2019 barely registered over the past hour since leaving Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station for a long weekend in the capital but the scheduled stop at BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport jarred me; it wasn’t the braking but a pair of travelers waiting to board. They stood outside on the platform, nattily clad from tip to toe in ‘Go Green! Go White!’ apparel; everything emblazoned with that famous Spartans logo.

I thought of my own Spartans clothing, bagged and tagged and dropped off at Goodwill last year. I thought of the Rose Bowl win as my girls waved green and white pom poms, of being with my brother for the cutting down of nets in Syracuse on the way to another Final Four and of posing awkwardly for a photo with 4 fingers outstretched as the crowd dispersed behind me, of watching two Spartan running backs go for 200+ yards each in the snow against Penn State with my parents by my side, of being with Tom Izzo and Mateen Cleaves at Izzo’s East Lansing home, and of my sadness when UConn shocked Izzo’s men at MSG.

Much of my story had been woven with green and white thread but I had no desire to be swimming in all that nostalgic bullshit today. No one ever invites in a flood.

After I pulled myself to dry land, it took a hot minute to put the chunky puzzle pieces together. Michigan State is in D.C. tonight for their Sweet Sixteen game. I’m in D.C. tonight too.

Poetically, “Jet Fuel Can’t Melt Steel Beams” raged on in my ears.

This is the first full college basketball season, thus the first March Madness NCAA men’s basketball tournament, since the divorce was finalized. Years of sex assaults, victim blaming, and blatant cover-ups by the Michigan State Athletics Department to hush reports of abuse against women were listed in bold, 72-size font as the reasons for the ending. As soon as I found out, I cut bait and left. Irreconcilable differences, indeed.

All my Michigan State clothes and memorabilia; the running shirts and shorts, that performance zip hoodie I wore every damn day, the framed panoramic of Spartans Stadium, the Christmas ornaments — both the snowman and the birdhouse — and even those pom poms from Pasadena, all are gone now.

Here I am in the district along with Coach Izzo and the Spartans basketball team and these two pillars of Spartans Pride who presumable fly into BWI this morning for the game. Seems the squad is decent again this year. If this was almost any other year during the prior three decades, a year in which I didn’t yet know of the pervasive ugliness on campus, I’d be scheming to find a ticket instead of fighting back tears to write this.

If this was then, I too would be there decked out in green and white. But I don’t wear those colors anymore.

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