The date was September 11, 1993. The setting was my parents’ kitchen. It was mid-day, and my mom asked me to heat up some veggie chili for lunch. I didn’t like chili at the time and I refused, asking my sister to do it instead if that’s what she wanted to eat. I wasn’t really paying attention as she took the blue and white bowl of piping hot chili out of the microwave a couple minutes later. I didn’t know what happened until I heard the sound of glass smashing on the floor, and then noticed the shattered pieces and the chili everywhere. The chili must have been too hot and the bowl exploded in her hands. We scrambled to pick up the pieces, and that’s when she noticed the blood. It was streaming out of a gash along the first crease on her left hand just below the pinky and ring finger. We rushed to rinse it under water, compress it with a towel to stop the bleeding, but it wouldn’t stop. That’s when we realized we had to go to the hospital.
Upstairs, my brother, the rabid Michigan Wolverines fan, had only one thing on his mind: kickoff against Notre Dame was just a few hours away. Because of my brother, we all rooted for Michigan. I always loved college football, but I didn’t have a team of my own to root for. So we dressed in maize and blue year in and year out, cheering Go Blue, and hoping that Michigan would win for my brother’s sake. I learned to hate Notre Dame through my brother’s hate.
So when my brother had to come with us to the hospital, you can imagine he wasn’t happy. He didn’t know yet that she had severed two nerves, two tendons and an artery. He needed someone to blame other than the Michigan players for their loss. Thankfully, we’re able to laugh and joke about it today.
Today is September 11, 2010 and it’s less than one hour away from the Notre Dame-Michigan game. Today I root for Notre Dame, as I have since I met my fiancee, an ND alum, over six years ago. Today I wear my green #9 jersey, bleeding Kelly green, giddy with excitement, nervous anticipation and the hope surrounding a new season, a new coach, a new quarterback. Today my family just teases me when Notre Dame loses, and hasn’t turned their backs on me. This is my team now and I live and breathe the rivalry from the other side. And I love vegetarian chili.