I’ve been trying to remind myself of the reasons I’m happy to be home:
1. I sleep more than 4 hours a night here.
2. Bottled water doesn’t cost $5.
3. The chances of skin cancer and Rafa-induced cardiac events are much lower in Pittsburgh.
4. I’ve missed my dog.
5. Low likelihood of bumping into Novak at breakfast in my kitchen.
6. I earn an income rather than bleed money.
7. I no longer coat everything I touch with a filmy white layer of sunscreen.
But I will miss scheduling my day around the order of play.
Yesterday was eerily similar to Saturday exactly a year ago. Both days I slept in, had lunch at Bravo, went to tennis, watched Rafa lose in the night match to Novak Djokovic in the semis, sulked my way back through the field to the car, and had a nightcap at The Polo Grill in Mason, OH. Last year my travel buddy and I declared ourselves “the saddest Rafa fans on the planet” that night. This year the feeling was familiar. But then I remembered how the night ended last year.
After last year’s match, my buddy and I had finished a pitcher of Sangria and returned to the hotel, and caught Rafa as he was coming in from the parking lot. Buddy owned a pair of Rafa’s shoes and had hoped for an autograph on his shoe as a souvenir. I had been carrying around one of the shoes in my bag in case we had an opportunity, and we feared this would be our last chance, so we approached and made the request. Rafa was, of course, accompanied by Team Rafa. They were all smiley and laughing, and Rafa was carrying his racquet bag and duffel bag, and a big bag of Burger King and 32 oz. soda. This was clearly his I-Just-Lost-I’ll-Eat-What-I-Want meal. He was sweet to sign buddy’s shoe (which totally lifted our spirits) and smiled at us as he walked on to the elevator. This was a teaching moment. Only one guy can win this week and next week there’ll be another shot at a title. Good result, on to the next one. If the loss had bothered him at all, apparently all it took was some Burger King to move past it and focus on the positive.
Last night I fought the urge to bum around as we drove to the Polo Grill and then back to the hotel. And of course, once we returned to the hotel, I spotted Rafa in the parking lot. He and Team Rafa were coming back from dinner and each was carrying a big cup of ice cream. Rafa slung his bags over his shoulder and stepped away from the SUV so Maymo could dig through the stuff in the back. While they waited, he gave girlfriend a big smooch, then scarfed on his ice cream. This is clearly a man who knows how to make himself feel better after a loss. It is what it is, life goes on, right Rafa?
My flickr pictures are updated through the final. I hope to create a Cincy 09 Highlight Reel set sometime soon. Thanks to Miri and everyone else for sharing this week with me, I had such a tremendous time. Hope to see you in Cincy next year:)