It was August 2011! I’ll never forget counting down the days until I left. It was so sad…but it was so exciting, so major, I couldn’t wait for the day. I said my “proper goodbyes” to most of my friends. That morning I hugged my mom and my Nana, and dad and I got in my packed down car and started our 765 mile road trip to a place where I had only been once, and didn’t know a soul.
After ~about~ 12 hours in the car, dad and I made it to our hotel. I remember coming off the exit and seeing a Golden Corral (ugh! Haha), a WalMart, and then getting to the Jameson Inn. We had made it to Auburn, Alabama. This was my new home. Hungry, we asked where we should eat…the recommendation…Niffer’s! We got fried pickles and I signed the wall somewhere near the bar. After we ate, we went back to the hotel and settled in for the night. At some point, one of us made a comment about the TV, or clock, or cell phones or something being a different time. Without thinking I said, “well maybe we’re in a different time zone,” and after a few seconds, we realized we were! (lol)
Auburn had just won the National Championship in January, and you couldn’t drive by, or walk in, anywhere without the store, signs along the road, or the items in every store letting you know. I watched the game with a group of friends after attending a Fort Hill basketball game (I think?). When it was getting down to the end, we joked that whichever school won is where I would go to college. That’s not the reason I went to Auburn, but isn’t that funny?
I moved into my apartment, started my classes, made a few friends, and quickly got a job. I got hired at the Sonic on South College. It lasted less than a week. Turns out an unorganized store and $4.14 an hour wasn’t for me. I called and quit the Friday before the first Auburn game.
On September 3rd, Utah State came to Jordan-Hare. All I could do was take it all in. RVs full of people tailgating, cars parked all over the place, and people in orange (and some blue) were everywhere. It was an “All Orange” game, so I wore my new orange Auburn shirt. I climbed all the way to the top of the stadium, and for the first time- I saw the Eagle fly, listened & participated in the stadium-wide Auburn call cheers, and watched the marching band in awe. If you ever go to an Auburn game, DO NOT miss pregame, it’s the best part!
The game went on, and boy, if that first game wasn’t a perfect metaphor for my new life as an Auburn fan. I’ve learned to hope for the best and expect anything. We beat Utah State 42-38, and I went out and bought myself a pair of orange Chuck Taylors in celebration.
Who knew I’d ever own this much orange?
Even though I didn’t know it yet, the “Auburn Family” was a real thing. My Auburn Family welcomed me, an outsider, and taught me all the things I needed to know. They welcomed me to their tailgates, they invited me to games with them, they taught me the cheers, the songs, the traditions, and they showed me what a real Auburn fan was.
I can’t believe that was seven years ago. There were so many new experiences and so many changes I have experienced since then. But as we prepare for another football season, I look back at those milestone moments as a Auburn student and fan.