….is the title of another blog, set in the future, about an event that has not happened. Because it certainly does not describe what happened to me on Sunday.
The event was a USA vs Brazil weekend volleyball tournament in Copacabana to celebrate Rio’s 450th birthday. It was hotter than blazes, but the nice event people had hoses sprinkling the sand so we didn’t burn our feetsies as we waited in line. The event was an amazing FREE dollars, and we got tons of swag, including water bottles, totes, sunscreen, TSHIRTS, visors, and what I thought was an oddly-shaped travel pillow but ended up being those loud boomy sticks you can blow up and make noise with.
There was a kind of deejay/game show host and his sidekick, who twerked against the security guards (who were actually break dancers – plot twist! Only in Brazil.) and did some very poor English translations, but I was just pumped that my Portuguese is good enough to realize his translations were off. There was a woman dressed like Chiquita Banana just for fun, who I’m pretty sure is me in about twenty years (I will say this about any woman in costume who is dancing in a crop top and headdress and appears slightly tipsy at 11am at sporting events).
We opened the brochures, and I discovered Kerri Walsh was in the tournament. Maybe it was the heat, or unexpectedly starting my period in the middle of a crowded stadium with no bathrooms, or missing playing and coaching volleyball, or realizing I was breathing the same air as a really freaking talented athlete whom I love, but I burst into tears. When the players from both teams took the court in front of huge flags (although we noted the Brazilian flag was quite a bit larger than the American one…purely a coincidence, I’m sure) I was overcome and during our national anthem, yelled “FREEDOM” in a fit of patriotism. Kerri caught my eye in the crowd and returned my fist pump and I then quietly fell to pieces about how cool life was.
BUT WAIT THERE IS MORE.
USA kind of stunk it up for both matches. But besides one guy named Evan, who managed to get on camera and do some weird dance for an official Brazil jersey, we were the only nice Americans there, cheering “sideout!” and “nice up” and the millions of things I’d forgotten felt so good to yell during a volleyball match. The heat was buh-lazing, but there was a nice breeze and we got to watch a helicopter rescue people trying to drown in the ocean despite the dozens of signs telling people not to go into what were obviously crazy waves. The helicopter lowers a basket into the ocean and scoops people out like fish in a bowl. It’s cool.
After the match, the silver place American winners Summer Ross and Jennifer Fopma were super kind and took pictures with everyone and said they had heard us cheering for them. They wanted their own and I told them I would take it and tweet it to them, and they both loved it! I felt twitter faaaaamous.
We went and hung out on the beach for a bit, and at one point I wandered back up to the stadium to see what I could see. There were some Brazilian players taking photos with fans, and I thought “hm I should go get my shoes and shirt and phone and come back to take some photos.” I turned around to go do so, and THERE SHE WAS. KERRI WALSH. GIANT BEAUTIFUL LAND MERMAID.
I sprinted back down the beach – the kind of sprint where you think you can taste your lungs because you are breathing so hard, grabbed my phone and hauled ass back up to the stadium, but she was GONE. Ready to cry, I spun around and run up and down until I spotted her. Across the street. Which is like eight lanes of traffic. The ground was burning my feet, she was walking pretty fast down the avenue with a friend, I was in my bikini, I was ready to let it go, but I said to myself “Rachel – YOU HAVE TO DO THIS OR YOU WILL REGRET IT THE REST OF YOUR LIVELONG DAYS.”
God bless, she got stopped at a red light, so I “ah! hot! ah! hot!” -ed my way through traffic across the burning road, and I was able to cut her off, leaning up against a telephone pole, bosom heaving, trying to say words and ask for a picture. Luckily, someone stepped in front of me, so I was able to recover a little bit. I said hi and asked if she would take a picture, and poor thing had been interviewing and picture-taking with randoms all weekend, but she totally smiled and said sure. I said I was the one that yelled “FREEDOM” during the National Anthem and I loved her. And it was magical. She was taller and prettier and nicer than normal people. I hope she comes back to Rio for the Olympics! eee!!!
You always wonder what you’re going to do when you meet someone famous whom you truly admire and think is so amazing. Now I know. Plus, she said hi back to me on instagram, hashtag freedom, so I can hold that in my heart forever.