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"If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world." ~ C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
The experience of going to the game with my wife and parents was close, though. Walking through the new airport terminal in Indianapolis, I got the sense that the next few days were going to mark me and my wife for the rest of our lives. We are newlyweds, and live in California where she has been born and raised by a lovely family who has stuck together through thick and thin and are leaders in their workplaces and at Church. I am from Evansville, the product of an accidental pregnancy and subsequently broken relationship between my parents. The one common denominator was our faith in Jesus, which causes us to look beyond pedigree and be forgiving of past mistakes.
The night before the game, we couldn't sleep. I guess it was a combination of excitement, jet lag, and an uncomfortable room at The Radisson. Regardless, it felt good to be in Indy. I am blessed to be able to live in Bakersfield, where I met my wife and have a great network of friends who love me. But I always miss home. There is something within my soul that longs to have everyone I love, and have loved, to be together in one place.
It was here. Gameday! We met my parents, now good friends despite the nasty divorce 25 years ago, and went to Denny's. Then on to downtown Indy for the first time in my wife's life. It was a typical overcast Indianapolis day, rather gloomy even. But my wife was mesmerized by simplest things. She kept looking off into the neighborhoods of very modest homes along I-70 and saying "so pretty!" because of the 1) the snow and 2) "there are no walls and no fences." You see, in California all the neighborhoods are divided by huge block walls. We are all isolated from each other.
Lucas Oil Stadium engulfs the skyline when coming from the airport. It is very imposing, but beautiful. We parked near the stadium because I have a bad back and can't walk far. After that, we spent time in the pro-shop and then waited in line for the gates to open. We were so excited! After scanning our tickets, the staff led us to the elevator because of my back. The attendant in the elevator was very friendly, as was almost everyone we interacted with. I was in awe while walking through the stadium toward our seats in section 642. It was wonderful. My dad and I reminisced about attending Promise Keepers conferences in the '90s when I was in high school. We playfully argued about whether or not we could get a styrofoam plane to glide from upper deck to upper deck like we could at the dome. My wife and my mom laughed about something, probably my beard. It was good to see them together. My mom had been praying for me to meet someone like my wife for decades, and the prayers were answered. It was good to be together.
Our seats were so high up we all decided to not move once we got there because we were tired. But we could still see the field without a problem. The pre-game skit by Blue was hilarious. He shot stuffed jaguar dolls out of a cannon into the stands while the announcer said he was "supporting the Jaguar relocation program." Hahaha!! The Air Force soldiers brought out an enormous flag, and someone sang a lovely rendition of the national anthem. We were so happy!
The game was incredible. The first drive was perfect. Donald Brown and Austin Collie dominated the first half. They treated the Jags defense like those stuffed animals from the pre-game. The officiating was horrendous. At one point, they got a fifth down! I was like, is this the same crew from the Colorado-Missouri game 20 years ago? Another time, they called a pass interference that no one could understand. It was obvious this game was going to be another typical Jags game. We all know how the game turned out, so I won't go into detail about it. It was a great experience as a fan. We couldn't believe how silent it was when the Colts had the ball versus how loud it was when the Jags had the ball. After the game we were hoarse, and my wife's arms were sore from clapping. We watched the Eagles beat the Giants on the Jumbotron and then made our way back to the car.
I am so thankful to the people of the Indianapolis are who built that stadium, and am thankful they are being such good fans of the Colts. We were happy to be there all the way from California, and hope it becomes a yearly tradition for us. Throughout the game, I kept getting texts from friends from all over the US who knew we were there. My parents were laughing. My in-laws in Bakersfield were cheering from afar. My wife was beautiful. So, for a few hours it seemed like I had everyone I loved in one place, together.
Merry Christmas, Josh.