The concept of home is a tenuous one at best. It has a textbook definition, no doubt, often centered around the physical dwelling in which one resides.
But what does it really mean?
Is it the place you were born? The place you currently live? The place you identify with?
As the Miami Hurricanes travel to College Station, TX to play Texas A&M, I’m confronted with this question, although for me it is easy to answer. Because while I was born in Bryan, TX (College Station’s sister city. When I was born that is where the only hospital was located, but we lived in College Station), home always has and will forever be Miami. Even before I laid eyes on Biscayne’s Wondrous shore, Miami was for me.
The Texas Side
This is not a situation where I was technically born in Texas but moved to Miami as a baby. I lived in College Station for 13 years.
I do have fond memories of College Station. Some of my best friends which are more like family are from there. I’ll be seeing some of them this weekend.
And the people are incredibly friendly, something Hurricanes’ fans are sure to encounter. It was the place I went to elementary school.
From March 2022, myself, my sister, and my brother (L to R) in front of our elementary school in College Station, TX.
College Station is an interesting place. Everything centers around Texas A&M University. The name “Aggie” is affixed to buildings, store fronts, and businesses. Pretty much everything in town is directly or indirectly tied to the school. They almost speak a different language, with “howdy”, “y’all”, and “Gig ’em” in the vernacular.
When we were growing up, Texas A&M was still in the Southwestern Conference (SWC), a conference compromised almost entirely (until Arkansas left, then entirely) of Texas schools. It was a Texas thing, and where my love of college football first gestated. We’d watch the Aggie game every Saturday, nothing else mattered in the world.
And on rare occasions, generally when Rice was in town, the local Dairy Queen would give out cheap tickets, and we could actually go to Kyle Field and watch the Aggies play.
Without College Station, without Texas A&M, my love of college football might not exist. And while I’m enchanted by the idea of an alternate reality where I don’t know who Al Golden is, I do owe TAMU a debt of gratitude for one of the great joys of my life.
So how did I end up in Miami? Well, actually, the same way I ended up in College Station. My father is a (retired-ish) professor, and Texas A&M hired him. And then, 15 years later (I was born 2 years after my parents and older brother moved to Texas), the University of Miami came calling.
And that changed my life forever.
If you’re wondering how I didn’t end up an Aggie fan, and how I don’t identify more closely with College Station, it’s because I didn’t belong there. You won’t see me trash the place, because that isn’t warranted. And I won’t dismiss it as just another place for me, because it is important in my life, and I do have ties to the area.
But going back to that word, it was never “home.”
The second I set foot in the insanity of the 305, it fit me like a glove. Well, full disclosure, the first time I was in Miami was actually in the Miami Airport when we still lived in Texas. My family was traveling back from India on Pan-Am and had a layover in Miami. I got off the plane, air sick, and promptly threw up all over the Miami Airport. Home-sweet-home. I guess I was marking my territory.
Miami is Home
The thing with college football is that it is about so much more than the game on the field. It’s about the community, the ties between the team, the rest of the school, and everyone surrounding it.
And I never felt that bond in College Station.
Miami, on the other hand… I didn’t fall in love with the sun, the palm trees, the beaches…it was the people. The glorious melting pot of every culture and background you can think of, co-existing. Not harmoniously. Let’s be real, we’re nuts. But still, co-existing nonetheless.
Coming from Texas, Miami truly was the Magic City. And the University of Miami was the fulcrum that changed me from a college football fan into a University of Miami fan, fostering a deeper understanding of my community, of my home. You cannot understand Miami without understanding the University of Miami football program.
Some families have a family business. For our family, it’s the University of Miami. My dad taught there, my brother went there, I went there, my sister went there and now works there.
And it represents the entire community. And it was the place where I found home.
That is why I’m so defensive of this team, this program, this school. It’s more than those things for me. It’s my extended family, mi gente. We can make fun of and criticize it, but no one outside la familia is afforded that opportunity.
I was recently in College Station for a wedding. The Rehearsal Dinner featured a cultural night, where you wore clothing representing your culture. I wore a guayabera and a Cuban hat, and found myself hunting for a cigar shop before the night was over.
To say there will be a culture clash in College Station this weekend is an understatement.
Two-step meets booty dance.
Boot meets chancleta.
10 gallon hat meets canotier.
Howdy meets buenas.
Y’all meets bro.
And I’ll meet the what could have been which fortunately isn’t. The pride that will fill my chest as our boys take the field, the U on their helmets, in their glorious orange and green will be immeasurable, representing us all. The family will be on stage, the country watching. Regardless of result, el orgulloso de Miami never falters.
We will be a sight to see.