California, Here I Come!

February 28, 2007

When the wintry winds are blowing,
And the snow is starting to fall,
Then my eyes turn westward, . . .
California, here I come!
         — Bud DeSylva, 1895-1950 and Joseph Meyer, 1894-1987

             American songwriters

No, not that California. This California!

California University of Pennsylvania is one of the fourteen schools in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. Millersville University, the school Lynn attends and from which I graduated, is another. The state system schools’ athletic teams compete in the PSAC, an NCAA Division II conference. On Friday, March 2, Millersville’s men’s basketball team will travel 250 miles west to California University to compete for the PSAC championship. And I’ll be there.

Despite my status as a Millersville grad (1969), I never attended a Millersville athletic event until Lynn’s first collegiate field hockey game in the fall of 2004. It’s not that I’m not an athletic supporter. In high school I went to lots of football and basketball games, in part because my friends did. As a teacher I followed my school’s football, basketball, baseball, and even track teams, some seasons more faithfully than others. And when Lynn started field hockey in eighth grade, I became not a “Soccer Mom” (a socially conservative post-feminist woman) but a “Hockey Mom,” an active, busy parent whose social contacts revolve around her children’s athletic teams.

And it’s those social contacts that led us to follow Millersville basketball this season. One of Lynn’s teammates, a freshman, has a brother who is the senior standout on the basketball team. (Another daughter is a graduate assistant on the training staff of Millersville’s field hockey team.) We got to know the parents of these young athletes, and, because the university is less than an hour away from where we live, we started going to basketball games after field hockey season ended.

We were there last night when Millersville met East Stroudsburg in the PSAC championship quarterfinal game. The gym throbbed with energy and I found myself caught up in the excitement. By tradition, the crowd stands until ‘Ville scores. This took only about three minutes, but in those three minutes I felt twenty-two again. I was carried along by all that young exuberance, electrified by the joy that swirled around me.

Millersville won, putting them in the semifinal game on Friday and, if they win that, the championship on Saturday.

This morning I checked the schedule. Friday’s game is at 5:30. California University is at minimum a four-hour drive away. Too far, Ron said.

What would be just far enough? I asked. What’s the use of having few obligations — no job to go to, no dog to walk — if you don’t let yourself follow a whim? What kind of a fiction writer doesn’t want to go somewhere she has never travelled in search of adventure?

I made a hotel reservation, rescheduled the haircut I was to have on Friday (I’ll be only a little more shaggy by Tuesday), and entered the destinations into my Street Pilot.

Let’s go!

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