Thirty pounds heavier and with a 2nd-place finish, the most-decorated Olympian in history returned to the world of competitive swimming this week, and you know what…
It’s been almost a year since I published that last post. Such a crazy time, last June, and I honestly just had to step away from GTGM and regroup. Michael gets it. Anyway, in my retirement, I took a writing course, ghosted a bit, traveled for work (and pleasure—because few things are better than a laptop and a long train ride). At the end of the day, though, I too missed being in the water. Water being Latin for blog.
So last week found me at a Marriott Courtyard bar in Clarksville, TN. It was one of those desperate nights after a successful work event when you’re too wiped to go to a real place, but you still need to process every great and horrible thing that happened that day. And you want to do it together.
Full disclosure: I met the First Lady of the United States that day. Honest to goodness, she tried to set me up on a date. It was wonderful and strange, but perhaps the strangest thing was that this was nowhere near the highlight of my day.
Back to the hotel bar. We had been joined in our turn down by our event partners, but after an hour or two, our internal crew was the last team standing. I ended up sitting next to my boss once removed, spinning in circles on my stool while he ate bar fries and someone else’s cold burger. (If you only knew the kind of month we’d had.) The highlight was the conversation we fell into, about our pasts and futures, disappointments and North Stars.
Here was a guy who knew exactly what he wanted. He knew exactly what got him out of bed, into Brown and Princeton, shipped out to Afghanistan, and on the rise in DC. And he had known since high school. And then there was me—legs up, spinning around in teal Keds and an afro, trying to figure out how I had even ended up in Tennessee with FLOTUS let alone where I was headed next. Nowhere near being a Foreign Service Officer or a professional Olympics enthusiast (totally a thing).
I’m all about exploring options, but there is nothing like leaving school to make you feel like an aimless drifter, Ponyboy. Falling into miracles and stumbling through the awful. If you know me at all, then you know that I’m a striver. In work, play, and love, I’m so achievement-oriented it’s ridiculous. Maybe that’s why I love the Olympics so much? A lifetime of training punctuated by two week blips of execution and glory. Yeah, that might just be it.
Even now, with my internship long gone from the rearview and no repeat encounters in sight, the Games are still my North Star. And I guess this blog is my compass. And I guess the adventure continues…