This past Wednesday, I headed to Harvard Stadium for the November Project. As part of my sous-ensemble (sub-set) of the project, I had given my “verbal”, which in November Project parlance means you had better show up. To make matters worse, I had even put it in writing-on, of all places, Facebook. And, to make matters even worse, I pledged to do the full tour, which, in November Project parlance means all 37 sections of the stadium, up and down in each.
This was my last official week of “sous-ensemble”, and I was pretty jacked that I could “do” the full tour. At the encouragement of a few tribe mates, I came early, at 6, to give me a half hour lead before the rest of the crew showed up. I don’t know why, but I expected there to be lights. That is silly. Are there even lights in Harvard stadium? It was pitch black. I could see shadows of white or green or some other color snaking through the sections. There might have been a few dozen already at this. So I started.
Only the sounds of pitter patter and breathing could be heard. It was painfully quiet. And then, from far across the stadium, as if in another land, I heard Brogan yell “Yeah!”. Within seconds, as if calling from our own individual tents at summer camp, we yelled “yeah!” back. More hoots, more hollering, and yes, it was officially morning.
The first section (section 37 for me) had been rusty, but by section 33, the cool new friend from Monday, whom I call “late-add Katie”, cheerfully joined me, passed me and encouraged me. I felt good. When I hit section 28, I touched the crimson numeral at the top of the stairs with some emotional knowing. That was as far as I got on my first day-actually even my second day.
Somewhere around the endzone area, I had second thoughts on making my “verbal” in writing. My legs were unhappy at the top of each section and I really thought I had been unrealistic in my attempt. I became discouraged. By now the fast, young ones were scooting like gazelles up and down, and straight back up again. Though they are always cheerful and kind, I felt like a slog compared to them, and became even more discouraged. I could easily slip out and nobody would really have been the wiser.
As I climbed up section 19, which was the farthest I had gone to date, I thought of quitting. It was still dark, but not so much, and I could hear the music from the finish, and that lured me just a bit. Then, at the top of the stairs I saw what looked like a puddle of electric blue paint (sorry about that Yale). I don’t know why, but the image of the paint, the Harvard-Yale game that had taken place just weeks before, inspired me. Moreover, I had rounded the bend of the end zone, and was now in sections on the same side of the finish.
When I hit the single numbered sections, things were livening up. Cheering came from all corners, and I could smell the spray paint section that Bogan holds court in as he blazens the November Project logo (which is a negative of the words November Project with black spray paint surrounding them) on shirts like a chuck wagon commercial.
Elin, my first friend at NP, Patrick, Emily, and others were cheering me on as I finally got to section 1. I glanced up from the bottom step, and saw the crimson “1” at the top and started to cry. Bojan yelled for me to sprint, but my legs were lucky to be putting one foot in front of the other at this point. The top steps required the hand assist on the knee to get the job done, but I did it, and hi-fived the numeral “1” and others at the top, with sheer joy!
Thank you November Project Tribe!!!!! I love you!