In honor Green Bay’s latest heart attack-inducing victory, I’ve decided to recap the time I went on my pilgrimage to Lambeau.
It was a stormy day in October. I’m just kidding. I don’t remember what the weather was like, but I do remember that I had been out until 5 am the night before in Nashville because it was my birthday and that’s what you do on your birthday… right? I also remember that I had a connecting flight in Baltimore from Nashville, which made zero sense, but I just do what I’m told.
Now, this particular trip was at the end of two weeks of me rampaging through the South on an impromptu tour via Greyhound bus. Many a night was spent snoozing in bus stations in the middle-of-nowhere, America with a shard of glass in one hand and an empty bag of chips in the other… but that’s a story for another time.
The point is, I was exhausted and worn out and beaten down and all of the usual feelings I subject myself to while traveling. This time, however, it was to the extent that I literally thought I was in California until I got on the airplane. Now, I hadn’t actually been in California in over three weeks, but I specifically remember thinking, “man this is going to be a long flight” as I boarded the plane. Sleep is important people.
The first thing I did when I got to Wisconsin was rent a car, because I can. Does that age me? The second thing I did was go to Trader Joe’s because I don’t live in America anymore and I miss the shit out of it. The last thing I did was go to bed and wake up at 5 am—once again—but this time to board a party bus headed to the one and only Green Bay, Wisconsin.
I would love to tell you about the good times I had on that bus, the people I laughed with and the shenanigans I got into, but the truth is, I fell into a very deep sleep and did not regain consciousness until we arrived at Lambeau. I forgot to mention that I made this whole journey solo… so much for making friends.
However, by the grace of God and me being a perpetual procrastinator, I ended up lost and confused at some tailgate for which I was not registered… along with four other people from my party bus. Fortunately they recognized me from my lack of practical footwear (Vans in 40 degree weather) and accepted me as one of their own. (more likely they felt sorry for me and wanted to take care of me). That couple from Texas and father/son duo from Iowa became my family for the day and I wouldn’t trade them for the world.
We drank, we ate, we laughed, we skipped around giddily and enthusiastically because we were all popping our Lambeau virginity. I quickly learned that you can’t bring a purse into Lambeau, only a small clear bag. Concerned and slightly intoxicated, I purchased a clear bag at the entrance and shoved my actual purse inside of it, which was apparently totally fine and acceptable.
The game was a dream come true. Okay, the people sitting near me could have been a little more enthusiastic (read: drunk), but Aaron Rodgers & co. charged ahead to a dominant and decisive victory that fortunately did not age me 5+ years. Also, I had mac & cheese, so what more could I ask for?
After the game, I wandered around mildly concerned that I wouldn’t be able to find the bus home when my favorite Texas couple phoned me, inquiring about my whereabouts. Midway through a nonsensical conversation, I spotted my favorite father/son duo, happy as can be.
“Look what I got!” the dad exclaimed, proudly displaying an empty popcorn box.
I turned my attention to the son, who shrugged and said, “yeah I can’t get him to throw that stupid box away. I think he’s going to frame it.”
I looked back to his dad who was smiling like a kid who just got his first bike or iPhone or whatever it is kids smile about these days. If only every adult could recapture such child-like glee, the world would be one hell of a place.
On the bus back home we made friends with an extremely drunk girl celebrating her 27th birthday with her awesome parents and husband. They were all wearing matching Green Bay overalls and I wanted them to adopt me. In between sips of vodka, she announced that she was going to form a love connection between myself and the Iowan son, going as far as to outline exactly how I was going to spend the rest of the evening with them and the Texas couple partying at the local tavern.
Iowa son, however, had a girlfriend and while I’m sure that mistake certainly could have been made, I opted to be a stand up citizen and go home solo that evening, despite the pleading of my newfound friends.
“Come on, we’re going to Shooter Magoo’s!” Iowan dad exclaimed.
“Dad, that’s not what it’s called,” the son corrected him, resigned.
“You can sleep at our place, it will be great!” Texas couple offered. The husband then proceeded to head to the front of the bus, grab the microphone from the driver and attempt to persuade all passengers that a pit stop at Taco Bell was beyond necessary.
To be honest, it was tempting and had I not left my car in a paid lot, I might have actually done it. I was pretty sure that the night could go one of two ways—it could be an incredibly awesome night I would remember forever or everyone would lose their drunken enthusiasm upon returning home and I would end up in the actual middle-of-nowhere, Wisconsin with a group of strangers and a parking ticket the next day. And so, I went home alone, got a good night’s sleep for once in my life and prepared myself to set sail for Sweden the next day all the while filing my new friends into a special place in my brain and heart reserved for people I meet on the road.