…and it comes from a heart attack while watching a North Carolina/Duke basketball game.
I have had anxiety issues for most of my life. I get nervous and anxious because I have to overly think just about everything. However, I also have enough self-awareness to know that expressions of such anxiety are usually not appropriate displays around other people. Thus, a substantial portion of this anxiety stays bottled up on the inside, only to express itself on two days of the year. Those two days of the year come when North Carolina and Duke meet in the regular season to play basketball.
For those who have known me a long time, this revelation does not come as any surprise. Just recently, I was reviewing a journal that I kept when I was in high school and a piece of loose-leaf paper slipped out where I had scribbled down my thought while watching a North Carolina/Duke game January 31, 1996*. Let me share with you some of what my seventeen year-old, basketball-crazed self scribbled:
“So here I am, stressing about a college basketball game and thinking it is the most significant thing in the world. I am actually crying about a basketball game. I question how my life has come to this, but then I remember it was never that great to begin with…I use UNC basketball games as a representation for life. When they win, I am happy. When they lose, I am sad and I hate life. When they aren’t playing, I am dwelling on the past or the future. It is so sad, I use basketball as a metaphor for life; how I always get stressed out in the process, and how sometimes, when I think I am ahead, at the last-minute, the other team wins…I live in a pretend world of UNC basketball and Abercrombie and Fitch advertisements**. ‘May all your dreams come true.’ It would be nice to have at least one come true. It would be nice to have Dante Calabria for a prom date, or just any prom date…I guess I will just find a way to end up comparing all of that to another basketball game. I am such an idiot; I relate everything to UNC basketball. My UNC 1993 National Championship watch broke in half today. Another bad omen and just what I don’t need. The band just broke in half; kind of like what my heart is doing right now.”
Anyone who still thinks I am crazy for my basketball fixation, I would like to point them to this statement from 1996, because I am light-years less neurotic now than I was then. I had a significant case of teenage melodrama with overt symptoms of the “Woe is me” syndrome. In spite of the historic melodrama associated with my obsession, this is not an addiction that I plan on giving up. Ever. Like an addict, I can admit I have a problem. However, to be this way about basketball games just feels so, so right. I need Duke to be the representation of all that is evil in the world (This doesn’t mean that individual Duke students or Duke employees are the personification of evil. There are a few Duke grads that I count as friends. I am speaking of Duke as a generality, that I need). I need it, because if I didn’t have that, I feel like in my day-to-day life, I would want to explode at all of the injustice that I see. I need Duke to personify all of that, so I can get it out of my system on two days a year. Sometimes, evil wins. Sometimes good wins.
Also like an addict, watching a Duke/Carolina game for me is best done alone. No one else needs to be subjected to my neuroses while watching this game. I prefer it that way. I don’t want anyone to tell me that I am being stupid, crazy or overreacting. I want my two hours of being irrational and out of control. I need this. Fortunately, this year, I don’t have tickets to the UNC/Duke game at the Smith Center. Because it is my first year working at UNC, I only got the half season ticket package. Thus, my last game of the year watching the ‘Heels in person will be the Maryland game this Sunday night. When the end of the regular season Duke game comes, I will be in my house, watching the game from the comfort of my rumpus room, only frightening Knightley, who will probably lose whatever respect a dog can have for a human by watching me.
One day, after a particularly stressful game, I know that David or someone else will discover my corpse sprawled out in front of the television. Hopefully, my heart will hold out for many more years and this is a hypothetical situation far removed in the future. I am a hardcore addict. I will admit right now, I can’t imagine any more lovely way to die.
* In case you are wondering, North Carolina ended up winning that game on January 31, 1996. My beloved Dante Calabria tipped in a missed shot by Serge Zwikker with less than a minute to go. However, in spite of this monumental, metaphoric success, I did not get a date to the Prom.
** The Abercrombie and Fitch advertisement to which I am referring was an ad with four, shirtless Abercrombie and Fitch models playing basketball in khaki trousers, with the caption “May all your dreams come true.” In my defense, this was at the very early stages of Abercrombie and Fitch trying to sex-up its advertisements. At this point, I thought they were just preppy boys, playing basketball (Unlike later Abercrombie and Fitch ads, these models were still wearing clothes, so they were trying to sell their chinos!). I had no idea what was ahead, and how much I would come to despise everything that Abercrombie and Fitch stood for. I tore this ad out of a magazine, and took it with me to college and pinned it up in my room, much to my BYU freshman roommate’s chagrin. Of course, I am not going to lie, because I was a seventeen year old girl who also thought the shirtless boys playing basketball were hot. What seventeen year old doesn’t want something pretty to look at?