|it seems impossible, but I don't own a copy of this cover, and I don't think I've ever seen it before|
Six years ago I was living in the wilds of Chandler, Arizona. It is safe to say now that 2005 was the roughest year I've experienced, and its got to be up there for Jamie, too.
We had moved to Arizona in 2002. I had lived in Texas since age 4, and had been in Austin most of my life. And while we loved Austin, I also knew that I needed to try something different. So, when Jamie's job evaporated in 2001, we began looking outside of Texas, eventually winding up in Arizona.
For a multitude of reasons, we never felt comfortable in Chandler (where we lived) or Tempe (where we worked), and found it exceedingly difficult to find anyone with whom we could socialize. I will always entertain the notion that I'm a deeply unpleasant person to have to deal with unless your paycheck requires you talk to me, but I think out there, we were just fish out of water in many ways. And, of course, Jamie's health was always an issue.
By the summer of 2005, Jamie's health deteriorated considerably. From late spring until November, we were on an hour-by-hour watch for changes. And, unfortunately, I had fallen into horrendous eating and sleeping patterns.
But in the Fall of 2005, the UT Longhorn football team was on fire. Our quarterback was Vince Young, and you could just tell... we were going to win a hell of a lot of games. The odd part of watching such a season is that I think you kind of know early on that this could be the year, that this could really happen. But then you watch every game wondering "is this where we blow it?"
I hadn't watched much UT football when I was actually at UT. The team hadn't been great for a while, and while I liked some sports (particularly NBA basketball), I was also doing other things in my life than watching football on a Saturday, even when I was watching the NFL on Sundays as a way to defer the inevitable homework.
But I graduated, UT got a new coach, and I wasn't just reading about the games in the paper. I actually tuned in. I knew more than the name of the quarterback. So by 2005, after the frustration of the Chris Simms era, we had this guy Vince Young step into the QB position (eventually. We won't discuss poor 'ol Chance Mock too much).
In many ways, I have a hard time getting my head around the fact that 2005 was both My Very Personal Bad Year and The Year UT won the BCS Championship. It seems like two completely different timelines. Somehow we managed to catch almost every game that season, even though that was the fall when Jamie had to go back on dialysis and I recall watching at least one game on Pay-Per-View so I'm sure we missed a game or two. If it were not for a memory of watching the UT/ A&M game on a TV at the hospital the Thanksgiving when Jamie spent her Turkey Day in a hospital bed (and I ate luke-warm turkey out of a plastic container), I'd never be able to reconcile the two timelines.
|FYI: slighting either of these men in my presence will insure you receive an immediate and justified thrashing|
By December, Jamie had begun to stabilize. Jason came in for Christmas, and I know we talked a lot about UT football.
Living in Arizona, we were in Pac-10 territory, and it seemed that my work colleagues were, at best, humoring me once UT was in the championship. UT was facing down USC, and the pundits and sportscasters were insisting this game was already decided (I particularly remember Chris Berman seemingly frustrated that they were bothering to even have the game, so certain was he of USC's victory). But what you could tell was that 1. the pundits seemed to be working from a certain narrative rather than demonstrating first hand knowledge one would have had they actually watched UT or the Big 12 that year, and 2. sports journalists have no idea what they're talking about (and people believe them. Its hilarious).