I don't consider myself a sports person. I don't watching many sporting events, and I was never was involved in playing sports. My middle school gym teacher gave me the unofficial award of "Most Injuries," but that's about as much athletic recognition I'll ever get.
Oh, but how I love my Green Bay Packers.
I was in love with the Packers before I really even cared about football. I like to say that I was born and raised a Packer fan. My hometown is in Michigan, but it's right on the Wisconsin border, only about an hour from Green Bay. It's safe to say that the majority of the town's population fondly considers themselves to be cheeseheads. I knew nothing of football in my early years, but I knew I loved the Packers. Every person close to me did. As I grew older and learned more, I was surprised to discover that Michigan had a football team. I remember asking my dad why we weren't Detroit Lions fans. He said, "Detroit is a whole other world, way far away. Green Bay is right here! It's home!"
Well, that settled it.
I was always a Packer fan growing up, but I still wasn't into football. The games were always on our TV, but I usually did not watch. I was always interested in the score and was happy to hear of a win, but that was about as involved as I got.
When I was 14, the Packers and Patriots were going to Super Bowl XXXI. Although I don't remember it, I can say with confidence that our town was going nuts. My parents bought Super Bowl sweatshirts for themselves, my sister, and me that we wore in anticipation of the big event. My parents also bought us each a jersey of our choice to wear while watching the game. I picked 92, for Reggie White.
Spoiler alert: the Packers won! We went crazy! It was amazing! But, as a kid not really into sports, I enjoyed the victory and then went on with my life. It was cool that they won, but it didn't have a huge impact on me.
My dad and I moved to lower Michigan a couple weeks after I graduated high school. For the first time in my life, I wasn't seeing green and gold everywhere I went. We were now living in Lions territory, weird and unfamiliar.
Fast forward over 10 years. Life was obviously a lot different. I was married and living even further downstate. I was still a true Packer fan, but I continued to carry my love quietly. I was 29, and the Packers had once again made it to the Super Bowl. I made no special plans other than watching the game at home with my husband.
When the Packers beat the Steelers, I was literally running around the house cheering until my husband asked me to stop. I called my dad right away, and we were both thrilled beyond words. We kept our phone call quick so we could each get back to our TVs to continue savoring the win.
While I watched the Packers celebrate, I was so happy I began to cry. I soon realized that I wasn't crying just because I was happy; I was crying because I was extremely sad.
I missed my hometown. I wanted to be back home so badly. I was thinking of my friends and family who were surely all jumping around, screaming, and celebrating. I thought of the joy that was spreading throughout the town, and I was sad that I wasn't part of it. I laid in bed that night and finally began to appreciate how incredible it was to be a Packer fan and how much it meant to me. Loving the Green Bay Packers made me feel connected to my hometown, to my youth, to the people I love most. Having this shared link with people and places that I cherish is comforting and brings me happiness.
I decided that my love was no longer going to be carried quietly; it was going to be proud and prominent. When I went to work the next morning, I brought my now 15 year old Reggie White jersey with me and draped it over my desk chair.
These days, I make it a point to have Packers stuff around me. It makes me feel like I'm surrounded by love.