"How did you end up at LSU?" I get this question a lot. Like, a whole lot. Most people ask me where I'm from and when I tell them I'm from south Texas, that's the follow up question.
I realized-thanks to a reader!-I've never told that story here, so I guess I should. Mama Nancy is from Baton Rouge, kind of. She was born in south Texas and moved to Baton Rouge just before her freshman year of high school. She went to LSU and finished her bachelors, masters, and law degree all from the LSU system. Growing up in Texas, my entire family was split: they were either Texas A&M Aggies or Texas Longhorns. But my mama was a Tiger. The only one around. Saturday afternoons, we would watch the Tigers play and every touchdown, I could count on my mama to do her signature touchdown dance. I knew I wanted to go to LSU and be a tiger. Once I got to high school, I started thinking really seriously about my future. I had a boyfriend at the time that loved the University of Texas. He was two years older than me and he wanted me to follow him up there when I graduated. I was young and in love, so I considered it. The summer before my senior year, I visited LSU and University of Texas on an official "figure out what the hell you're going to do with your life after high school" trip with Mama Nancy. To her credit, she was incredibly unbiased and she kept saying, "I just want you to go wherever you're going to be happiest." I liked UT a lot. It was big and diverse. But it was so big. Like, really big. The people were nice but, I don't know, it didn't feel right.
We made the drive from Austin to Baton Rouge, talking the whole way. Mama Nancy pointed out where the trees became covered in Spanish Moss and where I could get the best boudin sandwiches. When we got into Baton Rouge we took a mini tour of the city where she showed me the hospital at which she used to work (Earl K. Long) and we passed by her childhood home. We drove up Government Street into downtown and then onto campus and down sorority row. We toured the campus the next day and things felt right. Like I belonged there. My mama added in her own whispered commentary during the tour, pointing out her favorite places to study and tailgate.
photo credit: www.lsu.edu
I just knew. I knew I was supposed to be a Tiger. I applied to the one college I wanted to go to and got my acceptance letter on August 6, 2005. Now there are two Tigers in the family. We have good memories of hot boudin sandwiches, road trips to New Orleans, afternoons on the parade grounds, large diet cokes in the student union, and studying for hours uninterrupted in the Law Library. We drank Jack and Diet Coke at tailgates, raised hell in the student section of Death Valley, got chills during the LSU Fight Song, and stressed over exams in Middleton Library. She yells, "GEAUX!" and I yell, "TIGERS!" 30 years apart.
Our very favorite building. Also where my office is now located! Photo credit: www.replayphotos.com
And even though we'll both be in Texas in 3 very short months, you can catch us every Saturday in the fall having our very own tailgate in the backyard. Chicken on the grill, beer in the cooler, and doing our own touchdown dance for every point our Tigers put on the board. I guess you can say it runs in the family.