This was also the first birthday I really didn't feel ready for. For some reason, I didn't quite feel ready finished with 23, and I felt weird to see it go, but--what would every single older person I know say?--that's the way it goes.
It wasn't all mid-twenties apathy though. My good buddy, Andi, came to Chicago! I met her, you might recall, at an Amnesty march in the chilly Berlin fall, and she and I have been friends ever since, even when she took an internship in Madison, Wisconsin for the summer (something akin to the sketch about that state in Love Actually). She had extended her stay to include some traveling time, and just after my birthday she was going back to Germany, but she proved to be an excellent birthday companion!
During the days she was here we'd go out to dinner or drinks or an evening of improv comedy. One night we were bar-hopping in Wriggleyville (oh, the Affliction!) and we ended up having drinks at the Goose Island Brewery. We had been chatting with the bar tender about this and that, and just as we were getting done with our last round, she opened a bottle of some expensive Belgian beer (like Chimay but not) for the wrong table. Since no one had ordered it, and it was already opened, she gave it to us for FREE, saying "You ladies look like you know beer." Happy birthday to ME!
Though hanging with Andi was rad, the real celebration of my birthday was at the pregame for the Northwestern-Miami(Ohio) game, in which I met some friends at the beer tent before the game for FREE BEER (yeah, they do that, with Goose Island beer...I had no idea) and muffins. That perked up my school spirit, and we wandered off to the less-than-packed stadium in a fighting mood.
I gotta say, I do like college football quite a lot. The songs, the shouting, the people painting themselves purple for a school that isn't exactly known for athletic prowess. There are some drawbacks to NU football, and I'd say some of it is related to us being a Big 10 school:
The football is REALLY defensive and low-scoring We can't fill a stadium unless it's with Michigan or OSU fans We know zilch about Miami Ohio, so it's hard to get real animosity going there It can be cold at times, no lie
And at a certain point, we were ahead, but our defense was just barely keeping up with Miami (Ohio), and we hadn't seen any big plays for a while, and we all pretty much ready for the game to be over, when something amazing happened:
Our team spontaneously decided to play rugby.
There was a fumbled snap on a field goal that turned into a fumble-fumble, recovery, and then a BACKWARDS PASS, which was of course intercepted and then a tackle from a player who had been up till then run off the sidelines. So...THAT happened. I swear, the Benny Hill theme (THIS) was running through my head the whole time, and it FIT.
We did snatch victory out of the jaws of Miami, and that was great, and as a nice bonus, my posse and I got to spend a few hours at NU's local beloved coffee spot, chatting. It's moments like these in which I think "so THIS is what my 20s are supposed to be like!" I hope my next year falls nicely in line with what I experienced that day, but if it doesn't, we'll always have our Big 10 football.
PS. Just for the record, I want to get this out there, I am REALLY GLAD no one cares enough about our team to make up a sappy human-interest story like that Colt McCoy one. We're just nerds who play football and sometimes QUIDDICH (yeah, all your stereotypes are true)