There I was, in line at Marshall’s on Saturday, buying a Syracuse tank top on the day of the big game. Other people around me had already incorporated at least one orange piece of clothing into their outfit. I had no orange in my closet, and knew I would need something. I know, how can someone walk by the ‘Cuse merch at Wegmans and not go crazy, right? Self control, my friends…. The truth is, I don’t watch basketball. I don’t understand the positions, the calls, or how the game even works. I just listen to my Dad when he rambles to me about something called “defense?” (Whatever that means….)

Something about that Saturday made me proud to live here. I didn’t grow up in Syracuse. I had only been here a handful of times on high school class trips to see plays and stop at the mall, before I decided to even look at Le Moyne. Even when I decided on Le Moyne, it took me a while to get used to Syracuse. I was a country girl (not literally, because if you know me you know that country music makes my ears bleed.) Erie Boulevard gave me anxiety and the thought of walking through Destiny USA alone made me feel lost (which still happens. Why can I NEVER find TGI Friday’s?) I always thought downtown was overwhelming and the streets were too bumpy and hilly. Sometimes the winters were so depressing, I would contemplate laying in bed forever and never moving.

But that Saturday, I wanted to wear orange, and I wanted to drive down the bumpy streets. Everyone was proud, not just of the basketball team and the players, but of Syracuse as a city. How far the team had come with our name attached to it. What an honor. Although I get picked on for not knowing the rules of basketball, I still feel the need to support the place that has become my second home. I thought about all that Syracuse has given to me: an education, tons of new friends, a new home (literally), internships/jobs, a new sense of self, good food, too much good food, a Chipotle addiction, did I mention food?

But what have I given to Syracuse? Nothing. So for one day, I can pretend to like basketball and cheer on a team I want to win, because I respect this city.

Maybe I’m just more emotional these days, considering I’ll be packing up and leaving this place in the dust fairly soon, but I have a feeling I’ll be back. I’ll be back to visit the people who made Syracuse the home I can call it today, and maybe we’ll catch a basketball game, too.

P.S. Count how many times I say Syracuse in this article.