I Finally Get It: I Don’t Get it

I thought I understood my son’s love for Washington State University, after all, I have always done my best to imagine myself in another person’s shoes. I had empathy, an understanding of another’s plight. But even the most empathetic person on the planet cannot walk in the shoes of a true Coug.

Through Mom’s weekends, WSU graduation and a recent trip to Pullman, I have watched my son’s immersion in the Coug culture. From embracing the crimson and gray (everyone wears the gear over there 24/7), hanging out at The Coug or Valhalla, or just saying “Go Cougs” to anyone with the WSU logo displayed anywhere on their person, there is a camaraderie among this group like nothing I’ve ever seen. I think it hit meIMG_8509 hardest when we went to the WSU home football opener in September as we watched a music video on the big screen displaying all the joy of living (if only for a few college years) in the Pullman family. The key line of the song brought a tear to my eye—more than one in Brett’s expressive hazel eyes—“It don’t matter where we go, we always find our way back home”.  I almost thought I understood, but I don’t think I ever will.

I went to the University of Washington and although I only spent two years there, I have many wonderful (and not so wonderful) memories of my time on the UW campus. The contrast between my beginnings there in a sorority and my final days participating in campus protests against the Vietnam war, is a clear indication of my evolution in my two and a half at UW. I learned a lot about life there, but I never felt the bond to the school that I see in my son’s devotion to WSU. So, I ask myself today, do I have to be a Husky just because I spent some time there over 40 years ago? This is a question I have been pondering for the last couple years.

And now as we count the hours to this year’s Apple Cup, I must decide where to place my loyalty. I can never truly be a Coug because I didn’t attend classes in beautiful Palouse country. But, sadly, I don’t feel much passion for a school I attended so long ago—Sonny Sixkiller is no longer there, right? I feel a hell of a lot more love for the loyal, passionate Cougars.

So, although I will take a lot of heat from my UW friends, I am here to announce: I am defecting. Although I can never know or understand what a Coug feels, I want to feel as much of that passion as an outsider can reasonably hope for. Sadly, I will never know the depths of WSU loyalty in my son’s heart, but at least I know that I don’t know.

In other words, I finally get it: I don’t get it.

Go Cougs!

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2 thoughts on “I Finally Get It: I Don’t Get it

  1. Jacquie,
    This essay truly shows that you understand what it means to be a Coug. It does take some time to observe, participate, empathize and accept that choosing to head east to the Palouse and WSU is a choice that will change a person for the rest of their life. I am proud to be a Coug and proud that Brett made a choice that he loves. I am also glad that I played a small role in your Cougar indoctrination when you rode with me to Mother’s weekend so many years ago. Welcome to the Cougar family,I know you won’t regret your decision.

    Liked by 1 person

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