What do you say when people ask you how you are? I always say “living the dream.” The other day I said this and the friend who had asked me how I was burst into laughter. “Rachel! Whose dream?” she chuckled.
“Um….” I did not have a response. Like, is this really my dream? Is it too spoiled American and entitled to dream these days? I’m not sure. I’ve had so many at different points in my life – I’ve wanted to travel blog, to be a mom, to win American Idol, to start a t-shirt company, to publish a book, to own a paddleboat, to run a baby goat/rescue french bulldog farm with a huge instagram following, to not be allergic to apples.
It got me thinking and realizing that no matter what mood I’m in, or how work is swirling around me, or what the weather forecast looks like (or LIES LIKE, as we saw this weekend), life’s pretty dreamy if you look at it the right way. And I want to start blogging the dream every week, if I can. It’s helpful to remind ourselves how good things generally always are. I used to do it more regularly, and now I promise myself to get back in the groove, with a set format. So here we go.
Highlight(s) of the week: The Rio Grand Slam was back this weekend, and Kerri Walsh and April Ross were playing. Despite the website being entirely useless, I figured out when to see them play. They were seeded 8th, but made it to the championship match, and we saw them win the gold! It was so awesome to watch them play live for the first time, and watch them win, and be the only Americans in the stadiums and causing a mini-scene because it turns out I don’t know how to turn my volume or running commentary off when I watch volleyball.
But then, it got better! Last year I went to this same tourney, but Kerri had been knocked out, so I didn’t see her play. However, afterwards, while I was roaming the beach in my bikini and nothing else, I happened to see her taking pics with some fans.
I ran back to get my phone, ran barefoot across six lanes of traffic, tracked her down in front of a hotel, and gasped out a request to take a pic and say hello. She was super gracious, especially considering I was a hot mess. She kinda recognized me, because I had been the obnoxious American to yell out “Freedom!” during the American national anthem, and she had turned to give me a fist pump.
ANYWAY. Fast forward to this year, and all I wanted was a chance to redeem that photo. I wanted to be less sweaty, able to form sentences, and have some clothes on. For a start. We waited forever after the gold medal match ended (we got on the jumbotron several times, being the only Americans, and yelling, and being crazy), watched the awkwardly long award ceremonies, cheered every team that walked by, got kicked out o’ the arena (just because they were trying to clean it. I’ve grown up. No longer last call in every situation.), and this security guy swore that the gals would come by this one spot if we would wait there.
So we waited. We waited. My friends asked if I had given up hope and was over it. But then, like a ray of sunlight, they came out of the arena! And looked like they were walking into a special closed-off spot, and I was like “noooooooo” and THEN the security guard, who must have understood the part I said in English when I said “if it turns out they don’t come over to this spot so we can say hi, I will really, really hate you,” waved them over to us.
So I had this whole thing planned to say, about how we’d met last year and I wanted to redeem the selfie, and I’d even worn the same outfit as I had the day before, in case she’d seen me on the jumbotron, when Kerri sees me and says “Hey! How are you?! I remember you!” and gives me the tallest hug I have ever received.
I was seriously struck dumb. I blacked out. I can’t remember what I said. I think it was “wait – what?” and then Kerri said “How could I forget that smile?” and then I told April Ross her snapchats were funny and she laughed and we took photos and they thanked us for cheering for them, and I showed them my gold medal,
which is really a bottle opener that says “Winner for drinking excellence,” which I think I bought at a CVS, and we high-fived a lot and my face could have split from smiling, I was so happy.
Volleyball means a lot to me. We met when I was 11, and I still remember, very clearly, playing afterschool leagues in those awful grey uniforms we had at Valley View, and dreading whenever Lisa Otteson was in rotation to serve, and just praying for an error. And then trying out on a whim freshman year, which led me to meet some of the best friends of my life.
Playing club volleyball kept me out of trouble in high school and gave me some of the best memories. We learned how to be supportive, positive, disciplined, and happy on a made-up team in iron-on t-shirts. We didn’t know any better. We were playing in two leagues at once, and lost for months on end until we finally figured out how to win. We woke up early to drive to cowtowns and play in forgotten gyms with zero air circulation, legitimately watching girls faint from heat.
We lived in sweaty knee pads and spandex, stayed up late, and taught each other about makeup and hair and boys. We did calc homework on long car rides and made up songs and dances to everything. We had a million inside jokes, traded clothes, stayed up all night telling secrets. I gave a speech at our coach’s wedding rehearsal dinner! We were family. We were family for some of the most formative years of my life. I honestly think it was the best thing that happened to me in high school.
Being able to play as an adult, and then coach a few teams, and get to be a part of young girls’ lives the same way my coaches were for me was incredible. I hope to do it again some day. So to cheer for world-class athletes, especially someone like Kerri Walsh, who I’ve watched a hundred times on TV, and April Ross, with still so much ahead of her and freaking KILLING IT on the beach right now, and then be remembered and hugged and then be thanked for cheering for them? And take pics, and smile after playing for hours on end, and like my tweets at them . . . what an example, and exactly what an athlete should be. I felt so lucky to be a fan because they were so gracious. And it made me want to get back out and play asap. ASAP. I will now, for the first time, insert the hashtag #blessed unironically. Because that is really how I felt.
Lowlight of the week: none to report. I have a kind of rash in my armpit? That’s about it.
Fav song at the moment: “sorri, sou rei” by natiruts. SO NECESSARY. Click and let your life be better.
This week I watched: “Spotlight,” which was awesome. Still watching season 3 of Sons of Anarchy.
This week I read: started “Goldfinch” and it’s making me laugh and making me sad. Does it get better? It won awards, so prob not. But I like it. According to Kindle, I have 9 more hours to go.
All the feels are from: This inspiring article of the week: How a Mexican Janitor Invented Flamin’ Hot Cheetos – and is now a vice-president at Frito-Lay. This is my fav snack and I crave it constantly here in Brazil. And this is a kickass story. Read it here.
I’m looking forward to: more volleyball tomorrow night!! indoor, which is my jam. Plus, it’s spirit week at school!!! As yearbook teacher, as resident costume hoarder, as generally spirited individual, I feel both excitement and pressure at this event. Mostly excitement. I will probably write an entire post about it, but for now, here is what I wore today. It was Career/Professional Day. I’m a food vendor.
If you haven’t heard it yet, and you need to hear it today, I’d wait a long time to take a picture with you, even if I had to ride a sweaty two-hour bus through political protests to get back home. I’d smile the whole way home.