Thursday, August 30, 2012

The end of an era

Calling the retirement of Andy Roddick from tennis the 'end of an era' probably sounds a little inflated. But I'm not talking about an era in the history of tennis, though that certainly can be argued.  After all, he's the last American man to have won a grand slam, to have held the number one world ranking, and he's been the driving force of the Davis Cup for years.

But no, this is the end of an era for me personally.  The commentators talk about watching Andy grow up on the court, and the truth is that I grew up along with him as a tennis fan.  Andy's the first player I really ever rooted for.  Yes, I loved Sampras, the king of Wimbledon, but Andy was my guy.  I cheered like nothing else when he won the US Open.  I cried like no other with each Wimbledon final.  I've seen him play three times: once at an exhibition match while I was in high school, then at the US Open years later just before starting another year in college, and finally when he bring the Davis Cup to Austin. 

And there's a part of me that owes something very special to Andy.  Because the night before Andy played in that last Wimbledon final, I was making all of those prayerful promises that fans make when they really want something.  Please, just let Andy win.  If Andy wins, I'll clean out my closet.  If Andy wins, I'll floss twice a day.  If Andy wins....I'll lose the weight.

If you know me in real life, you already know, but otherwise, I should tell you.  I used to weigh much more than I do now.  I lost a lot of weight in high school and then gained it all back plus interest throughout college.  There was no particular reason why this, the first summer after graduation, should be the moment when I really did lose the weight and keep it off.  There are, I'm sure, many more blogs' worth of things to say about it.  But what matters is that that promise, not even spoken aloud, just made to myself, that I would do it for Andy, somehow that carried through even the disappointment of his loss.  

I started slow, I began writing down everything I ate, I counted my calories and had my base metabolism tested.  I wore a pedometer and made 10,000 steps a day a requirement.  And each day that I did it built upon each other, making it easier to keep going just by virtue of momentum.  Until finally, a year, maybe a year and a half, later, I was a hundred and fifty pounds down.  I know, it's still a crazy number for me.  But that's what it is, and I've managed to maintain it.  

Is Andy Roddick the reason I lost the weight?  Of course not.  But it's just one of those associations that makes the news that this US Open will be his last even more emotional for me.  Because yes, it's about the game.  But it's also about the part of my life that happened alongside that game, and the milestones I marked with his victories and losses.  And that makes it hard to say goodbye.

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