This is very similar to some of y'all's stories (and more than a little long), but I had fun writing it anyway. Off we go:
When I was young, my mother had a calendar that she kept more or less as a baby book. The entry for September 5, 1981 reads, "[Katdawg] went to her first Georgia game today. . .Ga. beat Tennessee 44 - 0. GO DOGS"
I was two months, three days old. I did miss two home games that year, one due to Alumni Band and the other due to inclement weather. The calendar also chronicles my first experiences watching the men in silver britches on TV: my first Florida game (26 - 21 Georgia), the Dawgs' SEC-clinching win over Auburn, and a 44 - 7 beatdown on Tech. When I say I've been a Georgia fan since before I could walk, I mean it quite literally.
My parents met in the Redcoat Band, and remained ardent Dawg supporters after graduation. As a result, I have fond childhood memories of tailgating with my grandparents, crawling under the bleachers to take a nap (back when a child could do that without being stampeded), my dad carrying me out of the Auburn game with snow gently falling (I think I was around 4), and many years of running around the track while the Alumni Band rehearsed in the stands. When the time arrived for me to choose a college, the running family joke was that I was encouraged to "explore all my options before choosing Georgia." In truth, I never even applied anywhere else--I just always figured I would be a Bulldog some day.
I was a member of the Redcoat Band for four years that straddled the Donnan and Richt eras. My time at UGA cemented my hatred of Florida--they were the only team we played during those four years that we didn't beat at least once. Aside from that, I got to witness some great moments--breaking the 8-year losing streak against Tennessee (for the record, we were among the fans screaming, "Get off the field!"), P-44 Haynes, David Pollack's strip/touchdown in Columbia, a couple of solid wins over Tech, and the 2002 Auburn game to clinch the East. As cliched as this statement is, thinking of the 2003 Sugar Bowl (my senior year, Georgia's first Sugar Bowl in 20+ years, playing the Battle Hymn at midfield for pregame) still gives me goosebumps.
After graduation, I went to graduate school in the frigid hills of Central New York. I met the only other Georgia fan in Ithaca, NY in the campus TV lounge, where we watched the season opener against Clemson (Georgia won big enough for CBS to cut to another game in the 4th quarter--my new friend and I agreed that the suits at CBS were idiots). The day of the first home game hurt--it was the first home opener I had missed in my life, and we were playing some school small enough that I know there was no chance of getting the game on TV. I finished my degree, hightailed it back to a place that isn't covered in snow from November to March, and haven't missed a home opener since. Hopefully I'll have the chance to be in the stands for the next 40 or so, wearing red and black and screaming my head off. Later this month, my parents and I will all take the field for Alumni Band Day. And every time I leave Sanford Stadium, I'll be reminded of the final words we spoke at every game between the hedges:
"Once a Dawg, always a Dawg. How sweet it is!"