Thursday, October 14, 2010

A Brush with Greatness (Whilst Hysterically Sobbing)

I neglected to post this a few weeks ago because it was so emotionally raw ('course, nowadays, riding on the pregnancy roller coaster,  everything--including eating soggy toast or my shoelaces coming untied is emotionally raw).

But I met a personal hero and American, nay, international legend at the charming local coffee shop WHILE MINDING MY OWN BUSINESS.

Keri Walsh-Jennings (wiki-stalk here) has been such a dominant force in women's volleyball for over 10 years. She's simply awe-inspiring and gorgeous to watch...which is why I was completely emotionally absent at my new job and MIA for newlywed kitchen duties during the summer Beijing Olympics of 2008.

CLEARLY, I had to be completely devoted to sitting for hours in front of our TV, screaming her name and bouncing wildly, flailing cheetos when she and Misty May beat China, Brazil, um...and everyone else in the WORLD. It was a call of duty I had to answer--as an American and a patriot, people.

None of her athletic prowess or sheer skill is enough though, to explain her magnetic draw for me or fans the world over.

I know what impressed me time after time, was not her perfect serves, resounding spikes (POUNDS!), towering blocks, or lithe digs--but her persistent enthusiastic encouragement of her teammate, Misty May.

She is such a cheerleader--even though she is also the star quarterback. She was always so graceful and gracious to others under immense pressure.  Which is so rare in today's cutthroat athletic culture--where people fist-pump and puff out chests and have long self-congratulatory press conferences.

She's precisely the kind of girl you would want to be--or your daughter to be. Selfless, enthusiastic, but also able to kick anyone's ass.

So you can understand how verklempt I was when I looked up from my book and spotted her trademark braid. And then she turned her head and uncoiled elegantly up to her full height (um, 6'3''--who else would it be!)--I immediately gasped and tears leapt to my eyes.

She could not have been friendlier--especially as I was clearly a crazed, emotionally unstable fan. Albeit my pregnancy makes me a little less dangerous.  She actually came closer to my table, and extended her hand and simply said, "Hi, I'm Keri..."

We chatted about her 2 babies, my pregnancy, her upcoming tour in Thailand and China. I tried to act as polite and casual as one can when one's nose is running.

Even after she left, I couldn't stop sniveling. It chokes me up even a little bit, now.

I guess it's because her sweet encouraging nature is just as real in a random 2 minute coffee shop passing with a slobbering pregnant woman, as it has been for the last 10 years around the globe with millions watching. She's for real, folks.

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