Thursday, May 30, 2013

out with the old, in with the blue.

I've attempted to write this post about five times now. Thing is, I was so swept up in reading everyone else's account of the Grizzlies' season that I feared I wouldn't be able to create my own story. I'm not a journalist. No one pays me to write things. I certainly don't have to live within deadlines and word counts, so it has been nice to let my ideas marinate for a few days. You've already read my response to one T.J. Simers. You've read about my unforgettable experience at Game 6, eliminating the Clippers.

What you may not know is why basketball and the city of Memphis mean so much to me. My dad played basketball for decades here in town, and he was great at it. I love hearing stories about those games. When I was very young, I watched Tigers games with him - you know, when Chris Garner was the point guard. I always rooted for "double-zero". He also followed Penny Hardaway's career very closely, so I grew accustomed to watching the Orlando Magic year-after-year in the 1990s. Without googling, I can still remember some of the roster:  Nick Anderson, Brian Shaw, Shaq, Penny, and Horace Grant. The rest I'd have to look up online. During those years, it became the norm to yell at the TV and pace nervously around hoping for a positive outcome. This explains exactly why I use the full-range of my vocabulary when I watch games, and it also explains why I spend the last 15-minutes of close games pacing the lobby of the Fed Ex Forum. My newest form of sports-catharsis (sure, that's a thing) is tweeting, or what I have affectionately dubbed "anxietweeting". There's nothing quite like stressing out with thousands of other strangers. The point is, I learned how much basketball meant to Memphis at a very young age.

So what about my love for the city? Well, there are all the intangibles that go along with being the only home I have ever known. Those go without saying.  More importantly, Memphis is responsible for the way I view people. It doesn't take a Civil Rights Movement class at Rhodes College to let you know that this city was wrought with racial tension, a tension that still resurfaces from time to time. That class enriched my appreciation for the struggle, and it made me thank my lucky stars that it has never been my nature to make judgments based on arbitrary demographics. During this Grizzlies Playoffs, I didn't witness a broken city. I witnessed a community of fans who cannot differentiate between love for team and love for city. I danced with strangers who felt like friends as we endeavored to make history. Heck, I even started listening to local sports talk radio. Day-after-day I could relive the Grizzlies' successes through the voices of guys who know a ton about basketball and its meaning to Memphis. I've laughed. I've learned a ton, and I throw myself into the dialogue to be in the thick of all the fun. I talk a lot about supporting local things on this blog, and supporting local radio personalities is no exception. Check out 92.9 sometime. They start at 11:00 AM and end at 6:00 PM. You'll hear The Chris Vernon Show, The Eric Hasseltine Show, and The Gary Parrish Show. Each one is different, but they are all welcome additions to my day. Ladies, I promise this is not just your boyfriend's radio station. In fact, my mom introduced me to it. Also, I once commented on why it is not appropriate to wear scrubs to basketball games. Answer: Because it is gross. (See, fashion-related...)

And as for the Grizzlies? We made history. We made it to the Western Conference Finals, and that is no small task. Early in the season, we had the best record in the NBA. Shortly, we were accumulating wins against teams we were not slated to beat: OKC, Clippers, Lakers, Heat, and Spurs. We overcame seemingly insurmountable leads to win games, and the grit and grind was in full-force. We got revenge on both the Clippers and Oklahoma City in the playoffs, and it felt great. Our city, always vulnerable to judgment, opened its doors for tourists, fans, and national media. I am not sure we were actively demanding respect, but we earned it nonetheless. My dad was nice enough to buy me tickets to Game 3 of the WCF, and though it ended badly, I wouldn't trade the experience for anything. Sometimes you have to do things simply to take in the gravity of the moment, and that's why I shelled out a chunk of my paycheck to go to Game 4. Sure, I had high hopes for a victory. More than that, I just wanted to be there to voice my support. When it became clear that we would lose, I didn't have the urge to yell, pout, pace, or even leave. I stood up with the rest of the fans, and I thanked our team. Maybe it seems silly that I bought a shirt that has the last names of the 2013 starting five, but it memorializes a really stellar group of guys - guys whom I have never met and feel like I know.

One of my fatal flaws has always been transitioning poorly out of periods of excitement back into the daily grind. I still get sad when Christmas passes. I used to feel empty when my friends would go back to their houses after spending the night. The truth is that I thrive on the energy of others and the thrill of conversation. So, it hasn't been easy for me to accept that the Grizz season is over. I wasn't ready for the party to stop. So what do I do? I figure out a way to channel it. For me, that has always been through writing. If you look at the top of the screen you'll see "Chic Memphis". Yes, I bought that domain name today. I am still honoring my passion for fashion, but I want to be a part of writing the positive narrative of Memphis. I do hope you'll join me.

what i wore on grizzness casual day. 

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