Sunday, September 6, 2009

Two headlights in the dark

My dad flew in for the weekend to see Carolina's pro alumni basketball game and the football season opener against The Citadel. Dad put together the best Carolina tailgate these eyes have seen for 25 of my friends and friends of friends.

Tar Heels old and new came together for a brief celebration of being young and carefree. We had nearly the entire audiology class of 2013, a medical student, a couple teachers and several graduate students. I stepped back and looked a few times at the incredible assortment of people. I am proud of my friends. I learned something about organizing a tailgate; it sort of takes your mind off football.

But the football team complied with my jovial mood and put the expected beating on The Citadel before claiming a 40-6 victory in the evening heat.

My parents would rather talk about Friday night's alumni game, which was also truly special. Vince Carter, Antawn Jamison, Raymond Felton, Danny Green and the rest shared the same court for us for the first time in history. The 2009 national champs were on hand for the unfurling of our new championship banner. And Michael Jordan - have you heard of him - received a thunderous applause for finally achieving Naismith status. Of course Roy and Dean were there for a Carolina family photograph, probably the last of its kind.

Today I woke up with the expected emotional hangover that such a weekend can produce. I rose after 11 and feebly ate a bowl of cereal. I had a golf date with an old high school friend so delayed showering off Saturday's football sweat until 6:30 p.m. I know, gross. But I'm clean now and feel a bit better.

My parents and I went to Maple View Farm after sundown for ice cream. The place has a nice porch with rocking chairs for countryside gazing, but the moonlight could only outline the trees bordering the farm. I stared into darkness. Solitary headlights crawled on a narrow side road between farm fields.

"Where does that road lead to?" my dad asked.

"I don't know," I said. I never thought about what exists beyond this beautiful countryside that sits 15 minutes outside of Chapel Hill. I have gone there often to sit, eat and watch the cows graze. But something is there that draws people besides the ice cream and view. Material surroundings cannot explain the farm's apparent peace.

I wondered if the motorists driving into the unknown dark knew how uplifting a silent pair of headlights in the night can be. If we get to choose how we enter the afterlife, I want to go in a car at night on Dairyland Road with bluegrass music in my ears.

'Maybe that road goes to heaven,' I thought to myself. One's perception is one's reality, and my perception was perfect for a moment. I came home and started to write.

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