“[Wayne] Coyne sees an analogy between basketball games and rock concerts. Playing a song for the thousandth time, he told me, is just as meaningless as putting a ball through a hoop. Under the right circumstances, however, those things take on great collective meaning. ‘It’s that idea of everybody being focused on the same thing at the same time and being together in the bigger experience,’ he said. ‘It’s silliness, but all things are like that.’
Hello, fans of my long-dormant blog machine. BK here, sitting at my desk and/or command center in beautiful Palo Alto, California. This is where I live now. Sorry for the lack of warning.
I left my job of six years at William & Mary in early September. As anyone who has talked to me for more than 30 seconds knows, W&M has meant the world to me since I was 17. That won’t change. But I had said for a long time that I wanted to go on an adventure while I was young, or else I’d regret it forever. So 18 days before my 29th birthday, I started my solo road trip to California.
In seven days I saw eight states* and even managed to see some friends along the way. I started at 36.884127 N, -75.98678 W and ended at 36.867536 N, -121.81881 W — you can very nearly draw a horizontal line between my Atlantic beginning and the end at the Pacific coast. I spent four days after that in California trying to find an apartment — and did, thanks to Christina and Paul. Then I flew back East to visit my ninth state (what up, Greensboro!) and watch six dear friends get married. In three separate ceremonies. Don’t get any ideas. I started work at Stanford on October 1st and I’ve been here ever since. I haven’t even been to the other side of the bay yet.
You might be wondering how I could leave my beloved 757 after spending so much time thinking and writing about it. So am I.
In moving west, I had to leave behind a place that I love that was full of people that I love even more. It’s just as hard as you might think it would be, after 24 years of living in Virginia. My roots are strong and deep and will stay that way. From just my desk, I have three Hampton Roads wall hangings in my living room. My heart will always be there, and I will still be paying attention. But I’m starting to settle in here in California and I think this adventure will go a long way toward helping me get closer to the person I want to become. I am grateful for everyone back home who helped me get this far. Come visit!
Leave your favorite California song in the comments.
*Virginia, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California.
Logo courtesy of the Bring the Kings to Virginia Beach Facebook page.
Today, Norfolk’s Inside Businessreported that the NBA’s Sacramento Kings would announce next Wednesday (!) their upcoming move to my hometown of Virginia Beach. Naturally, the curmudgeons of the Hampton Roads sports universe reflexively began to cry “never gonna happen” and tell the sad tales of rhinos, hornets and Youppi! (Points to Dave Fairbank of the Daily Press for a thoughtful e-mail response to my request for positivity, though.)
That’s what I want: positivity. Every time this happens, we hear the chorus of haters who seem only to want the almighty having-been-right-all-along. If that’s what you want, I pity you. Here’s what else I want: pro sports in the 757.
A professional sports franchise in Hampton Roads would be transformative to the regional attitude. It would link widely disparate communities under a common flag. Hold training camp at William & Mary. Sponsor reading programs at Tidewater Park Elementary. Gin up some local pride for the first time, maybe ever. We need it, and it doesn’t seem to be coming from anywhere else. I have my doubts, too, but there’s enough of that floating around. This region will never get anywhere fueled on doubt.
I am sad to see Sacramento lose its franchise, but you can bet I’ll spend a fortune on Virginia Beach Kings merchandise if this comes to pass. That’s a promise.
I had long phone conversations with my mom on the road, and she said, in that gentle voice reserved for mothers, “What about moving back to Dallas?”
No way. Absolutely not. What is the opposite of yes? That is my answer. A thousand-billion times no.
The knee-jerking was a little extreme. But when you construct your meaning from things outside of you—the cool job you have, the music and the movies you enjoy, the vintage brush of the funky corduroys you wear—then you are bound to live in cities on the Approved List, which Dallas certainly was not.
Yes, it’s this topic again (but first, we set aside the idea that sports has much to do with actual suffering). I read this recently and found it appropriate given two current events:
1. The Oklahoma City Thunder beat the storied Lakers to materialize in the Western Conference championship series against San Antonio;
and 2. Tomorrow evening I’m taking a late flight to Seattle for an article I’m writing.
We have two forces at work here. One is my affinity for the Puget Sound area, and the other is my dream that someday Hampton Roads (or whatever they are going to call it) will have a pro sports team to call its own. After seeing what happened to the Sonics thanks to probable Superman nemesis Clay Bennett, I have real mixed feelings about what will probably have to happen.
I hate the idea that Seattle lost its NBA team — and one with a really snappy locally-themed nickname, to boot — because an extremely rich man didn’t get a free taxpayer-financed basketball arena from the county and state governments. He got a lot of help from NBA commissioner David Stern, who sucks. There is debate over whether he ever intended to keep the team in Seattle at all. But I love the idea that Bennett (who I think is still likely a weapons-grade d-bag) so loved Oklahoma City that he sought to bring it pro sports glory at any cost. Thanks, Kevin Durant! Hampton Roads, apparently, does not have anyoned-baggy enough to make it happen for us.
We’ll see how OKC supports the Thunder when they have some down years, but the Sonics case and the 2004 Expos case are interesting to look at side-by side. When the Expos were bought by Major League Baseball, MLB decided where they were going to land, based on what they thought would be most successful. The most-talked-about candidates were Portland, Oregon; Norfolk; Washington, DC; Northern Virginia; Las Vegas; Monterrey, Mexico; and San Juan, Puerto Rico. But MLB made the decision based on economics — DC is the center of a huge region that was not exactly caravaning to Camden Yards to see the Orioles. Nationals Park was born — and it’s a beaut — but the also-rans despaired.
(I was working in downtown Norfolk in summer 2004, when the rumors were swirling that we’d get a team. My favorite rumor: every bar on Granby Street was prepared to roll kegs out onto the sidewalk if they announced we got ‘em. I’d kill for one of those baseball manhole covers.)
Oklahoma City was never going to get a team out of the benevolence of the NBA. They needed a cutthroat favorite son to bring one to them.