Here is an important thing to know about the trip to Green Bay:
I almost didn’t go.
For real. EVEN AFTER I decided, in writing, to go!
There were reasons. None of them were good.
I hit a plastic trash can on a highway a few days before we left and I was worried there would be something wrong with my car that would be expensive to fix, therefore depleting the trip budget. (There wasn’t.)
After a zillion days of the kind of rain that would make Noah nervous, the flood waters rose in Harrisburg and threatened to invade our basement while we were away. (They didn’t.)
And, surprising to no one, I was still worried—about money, about the inherent hassle involved with any trip, especially a 12-hour-one-way road trip, about whether I was being wisely adventurous or needlessly foolish (or both). Even after we were literally in the car on our way out of town, I hesitated.
All of it seems completely absurd to me now. Because now, I can only see it from the viewpoint of what I would have missed if I had opted out at the last minute.
Here are only some (!) of the things I would have missed:
JOY. All. The. Joy. that overtook any lingering doubt within 30 seconds of arriving at Lambeau.
Fried cheese curds and brats. Especially the fried cheese curds. There’s a special place in my heart (and arteries) for those.
I texted this photo to my mom and she said, “Who are those guys? Just fans?” Which was absolutely a highlight of the entire experience. So good job, face-makers. Apparently no one even notices the celebrity players, white face outline, and neck sticks. Blends right in!
This is what the kids call “living your best life.” Bart Starr jersey. Plastic football necklace. Randall Cobb’s face on a stick. I had forgotten how much I love the Eccentric Fan version of myself who only exists in Green Bay.
I would have missed the best tradition in football: extremely muscular, extremely wealthy humans riding local kids’ bikes into and out of training camp. Where else does this happen? Zero places.
Football is this oddly settling, grounding thing for me. It’s probably what most people experience when they do yoga or climb a mountain. For me, it’s being on or near or around a football field. And as evidenced by the Class A freakout I had prior to this trip, I clearly needed the kind of calm only the return of football can provide.
I would have missed Clay Matthews staring back at me from this lady’s calf, one of the more dedicated displays of fandom I’ve seen in a long time.
The new Titletown additions!!! I would have missed seeing them up close for the first time.
Alternatively titled: I didn’t need to caption this because these faces speak for themselves.
Jenny and I threw a football around on this field for hours, and it was the best. I would have missed running an ACTUAL SLANT on a real field at Lambeau. I mean, come on.
There was a football clinic for kids and I swear we watched a future Hall-of-Famer. And since I don’t remember his name, I’m just going to assume that any super talented blond-haired kid who explodes on the scene in the next decade or so is him and say, “I watched that kid dominate a clinic 15 years ago.”
As if all of this weren’t enough, there were puppies, too. I can’t even.
This moment, sitting on top of the sledding hill on our last night and taking in all of Lambeau lit up by soft lights, will be a favorite for a long time.
The chance to road trip and adventure with Jenny, who is a Packers fan mostly because she’s the kind of friend who becomes invested in the things you are invested in. She’s also the kind of friend who will sign up for a road trip to Green Bay twice in the past two years. Everyone should have a Jenny, and I would have been so sad to miss out on Green Bay Road Trip Round Two with her.
This jersey! I found it at Goodwill for $10, and it has since become one of my favorite pieces of Packers attire.
This picture is the new background to everything I own and a very tidy visual of everything I would have missed if I had decided to stay home. Being inside the stadium is always my favorite part of being at Lambeau, and I didn’t even factor it in as a possibility during this trip because we weren’t there for an actual game. But the Packers opened the stadium to fans while we were there, so here I am, living the No Regrets life just like Tim Riggins.
I wish I was the kind of person who could make a decision without second guessing it a hundred thousand times over. But I’m not. So I’m going to leave this post right here as a reminder to myself and to any other chronic second guessers out there of what is possible on the other side of all the questions and panic and fear running amok.
Your gut is almost always right, second guessers—even when you can imagine a billion other scenarios that might be right, too.