Posted by: joha5 | June 21, 2010

The Wonder of Wimbledon: A Nostalgic Look at the Greatest Tennis Event in the World

On this day each year for the past 6 years I had a routine.  I would wake up at 6 in the morning and begin my day as usual knowing that it would be anything but.  I would shower, brush my teeth, get dressed, and eat some food before leaving the house.  Normally I would have my work bag with me which includes my lunch, a handful of files I needed for work that day, a book, my iPod, and my sunglasses.  However, on this day every year for the previous six years the contents of my bag were very different. 

Instead of the boring and mundane items they usually contained, on this day my bag would be holding items only useful for revelry and bacchanalian festivities.  I would tote around a couple of bottles of Pimms, lemonade, baguettes, cheeses, meats, chocolates, fruits, cream, and bags of potato chips.  As you can imagine I was not taking these things to work to celebrate another boring and potentially tedious work day.  I was going to Wimbledon.

A personal tradition for the past 6 years...

Attending Wimbledon is an event unlike any other in the entire world.  When you think of tennis – if you ever think of tennis – you envision the perfectly cut grass on the Wimbledon courts.  You picture the tradition of tennis players only being allowed to wear white outfits.  You imagine the scenes you have seen on television with the British public devouring bowls of strawberries and cream as they gently sip on their glasses of wine and clap politely at the end of every point.  While you may catch a glimpse of these scenes playing out, Wimbledon is not made great by these images that one would see on television.  Wimbledon is made great by it pageantry, its tradition, its organization, its history, and of course the best tennis players in the entire world all competing at the top of their game in one of the greatest cities in the world.

I will never forget the first Wimbledon I ever went to.  I remember getting goosebumps as I approached the footbridge over the road.  I could hear commentators detailing the action of the speakers in the queue.  I could hear the roaring of crowds and the sounds of hands applauding in the distance.  I could see the ornately decorated grounds with purple and white flowers draped from the buildings.  I remember paying and passing through the turnstile and feeling this flood of history wash over me as I made my way deeper onto the grounds.  Now I could not only see the finely cut grass but I could smell it.  I could smell the scent of strawberries and cream wafting through the crowds.  I could see players darting back and forth on the baseline hitting the ball at each other at over 100 miles per hour.  I could feel the fervor in the crowd and the excitement was palpable. 

They may be overpriced but you can't even begin to imagine how amazing it feels to have a bowl of these while watching a match at Wimbledon.

For as much as you think you may know about Wimbledon, it is next to impossible to really understand the size and the scope of the event without actually attending yourself.  On television we see only two or three of the more than 20 match-ready tennis courts that they have at Wimbledon.  We only ever hear about the men’s and women’s singles – and the occasionally poignant doubles match – when we read the news coverage.  Television doesn’t capture the throngs of people on the Wimbledon grounds.  It can’t convey the feeling of walking around and seeing how majestic and perfect everything is.  It can’t tell you what it is like to see some of the most famous players in the world walking around like normal people without being hounded by photographers or autograph seekers.  It can’t make you feel the excitement sitting courtside on one of the outer courts watching an incredibly tight match of tennis.  Tennis fan or not, it is undeniable that Wimbledon is a unique event specific only to this area in SW19. 

Only this year I’m not going.  I am at home in Washington, D.C. getting ready to start work next week.  I am at home watching the world cup and cleaning my house in preparation for a very special visitor I have staying at my house this summer.  I am writing a blog post on how much I miss London and how nostalgic I am for a tradition that I had developed with my friend’s for so many years.  I am waiting for a package to arrive in the mail.  I am trying to make my student loans current.  And, above all else, I am missing Wimbledon.  It’s on television right now and I can just imagine being there on the outer courts enjoying the company of my friend’s, enjoying the incredible food that my bag contains, enjoying the warm summer sun one the best days of summer in London, and feeling like I am a part of something big. 

Today I just feel small.  Maybe it is because I have been unemployed for so long.  Maybe it is because I am nostalgic and am wishing I was somewhere else as long as it was anywhere but here.  Maybe it is because I’m ready to do big and great things and I just can’t quite find the avenue to allow me to do that.  Or maybe it is because I am just bored that this feeling of missing a single tennis event for one year seems to be such a big deal when really it isn’t.  Yeah.  That’s it.  Stupid tennis.  Stupid Wimbledon.  Stupid London.  Stupid Washington, D.C.  Stupid boring mundane life that won’t let me do what I want to do.  Yeah…take that!

In the end, I just have to accept that I am nowhere I ever thought I would be at this point in my life – Wimbledon or not – and the sum of all of my decision’s seem so long ago that I can’t even really remember how I got here in the first place.  All I know is that I can’t accept it.  I can accept missing Wimbledon for one year.  I can accept watching it on television.  I can accept sitting in this house looking for jobs that won’t hire me.  I can even accept sitting on my own in this house everyday in order to make change happen.  What I cannot accept is becoming complacent in attempting to regain some sort of semblance of life that I had before. 

And this is why missing Wimbledon stings so much.  It isn’t so much the tennis event that I miss.  I just miss that feeling of being alive.  In London I was poor, I was working at a job I had no future in, most of my friend’s were more than 3,000 miles away, and I thought that the grass was greener on the other side.  Now that I am actually on the other side it just feels like all of the feeling is gone.  I don’t feel alive today.  I feel like I just exist.  To me, Wimbledon is great for all of the reasons that I listed above but it is also great because I can remember how happy it makes me and how I felt when I walked onto the grounds.  It was titillating.  It was sensual.  It was stimulating.  It piqued my sense’s like nothing has done since.  All I can do now is sit like a desensitized lump on my sofa and watch nostalgically as I attempt to regain some of the feeling I had before not knowing when, where, or how I will ever be able to get it back again. 

Rather than being at Wimbldon in person for my seventh year in a row I get to settle down on watch it right here from my own living room. Is there any wonder why I feel so desensitized?


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