Sunday, June 9, 2013
On May 10, 2013, I opened the San Luis Obispo Tribune. My eye was immediately drawn to the green ‘O’ on bright yellow – none other than Jordan Hasay in her Ducks singlet, racing across the top of the page. "Hasay's Running Makeover" the headline read.
Wait a minute, I thought. Where am I? Eugene? I looked around. No, not Eugene. This is my new home. Atascadero, California, just north of San Luis Obispo.
I hadn’t remembered that Jordan is from San Luis – SLO as they call it here.
I turned to the Sports page. Another nice picture of Jordan winning the 5,000 at Hayward on April 19, complete with lengthy article about her move to longer distances.
It reminded me how completely we adopt our sports heroes and heroines, no matter whether they’re really ‘ours’ or not.
And it took me back to a sunny August afternoon in 1984. The Los Angeles Coliseum, Olympic Track and Field. My friend and I chattered about the upcoming race, crossing our fingers that our favorite would win. The group in front of us turned.
“Who’re you talking about?” one asked.
“Joaquim Cruz,” we replied in unison. “He ran for the University of Oregon.”
Another, after studying the lineup, spoke up. “But,” long pause, “he’s running for Brazil.”
My friend and I shrugged.
“Watch him. He’s really fast,” I said. “And handsome.” I had passed near him at Hayward Field earlier that year, and had blushed when he noticed me admiring his face and physique.
Our support for an athlete from another country unsettled those around us. But he was ours. We celebrated his come-from-behind victory in the 800 while those near us had seemed stunned.
On May 24th, The Tribune reported that Hasay’s running move to longer distances, hit a bump. She failed to qualify for the NCAA Championships in the 10,000-meter preliminaries in Austin, Texas. There’s still the 5,000 though. Eugene and SLO will be watching.
It reminds me how connected we all are, no matter where we go. On a trip to Cambria, I had another ‘where am I?’ moment. We parked in front of a rock shop, the kind that sells real rocks. I did a double-take on the name. Planet Yachats. I turned to my companion.
“Yachats is my favorite Oregon Coast town. S’pose it’s connected?”
He didn’t seem interested and we moseyed to a restaurant for a late lunch. As we returned to the car, I knew I had to find out.
The clerk sat in the back at a small desk, eating her own lunch and reading.
“I’ve got to know,” I said. “Yachats – any relation to Yachats, Oregon?”
“Oh, yes,” she said. “The first Planet Yachats is there. The owners buy from all over the world – Morocco most recently. This is their second store. We’ve been open five years.”
The clerk has never been to Yachats, Oregon so our conversation died rather quickly. But I left with a Planet Yachats business card. On one side, the address in Cambria. On the other, ‘Corner of 3rd & Hwy 101 in beautiful Yachats.’
I’ll keep it to remind me that wherever I am, I’m home. And we all belong to each other, no matter where we’re from.