Minneapolis, Miami, Dallas, Memphis, Washington D.C., Kansas City, Chattanooga, Atlanta, Greensboro, Asheville, Statesboro, Cocoa Beach, New Orleans, Charleston...
Just a few cities on my list I've traveled to during my childhood.
And while each city possesses unique characteristics, they all share one thing, soccer.
At least for me.
Vacations and soccer. Like peanut butter and jelly for our family.
But, I never played soccer.
And yet, I've managed to attend more games than most non soccer players in cities all over the country.
My sisters, well, they were talented soccer players. And so, we traveled.
And memories were made.
We traveled on a tour bus to Minnesota. I listened to the Cocktail cassette on my Walkman while looking at the lights as we drove through St. Louis. It was in Minnesota I remember my mom talking to my late Grandma about seeing a doctor regarding Alzheimers. On a brighter note my sister's team won the tournament. We had Subways as we pulled out of the parking lot after a late game to begin the LONG ride home. It was on the way home that the bus broke down. In the middle of the night. In the middle of nowhere. At a B.P. Station. A soccer ball is likely still sitting on the roof of that gas station.
We drove to Cocoa Beach, FL where my sister was at a soccer camp, ODP camp (Olympic Development Camp). Mom got us a surfer troll doll and surprised us with it on our beds at the hotel that was close to the beach. When I hear about Ron Jon's Surf Shop and shuffle boards I think of Cocoa Beach.
We stayed with old friends in Washington D.C who took us around the historical sites in between games. I remember the cobblestone streets in Alexandria. I also remember missing school for this one. Always a bonus. This tournament usually occurred around Columbus Day.
The pool at the hotel we stayed at in Memphis (we came here a few times I think) was an indoor/outdoor pool where you swim under the wall to get outside (or inside). It was the highlight of that tournament (for me at least).
In Miami I had the unfortunate experience of watching a overly tan man in a thong stretch in the middle of the beach. On a more positive note, I also bought my first cd, The Bodyguard soundtrack, in Miami. I also remember the bright colors of the art deco buildings.
Kansas City was hot.
So was New Orleans, and a bit shady. We quickly passed Bourbon Street.
Atlanta, well, it was almost like a second home then. Each Sunday during soccer season we drove to Atlanta so my sisters' team could play other girls' teams. There just weren't any at the time in Alabama. So yes, we drove to Atlanta. It became a very familiar drive. I remember the Top Hatters and Cobb Union. I remember a Marriott next to a Hooters. I remember riding home from Atlanta and having to go to the bathroom the WHOLE time. So when my kids say they can't hold it, I say, oh yes you can. I have. I did. And I totally get now why Dad didn't like to stop.
And in between these tournaments I remember steel bleachers, blankets sprawled out with My Little Ponies, Peanut Butter and Jelly books, playing "school" in the van, sunburns, cheering, squeezing three kids in the hotel bed, van rides, music (where I got my in depth exposure to all the great oldies), an icecream cone water bottle, continental breakfasts, soccer t shirts and pins, honeysuckles during practice and pizza and coke (the beginning of a beautiful friendship) after Friday night practices, just to name a few of the memories.
And after my sisters left for college, more games were attended as they both had successful college years playing soccer and then again when my oldest sister became the women's soccer coach for Georgia Southern.
It's only been in the past two years that the soccer excitement came to a complete stop.
Until, last Tuesday.
And this little guy picked up the baton.
Or shall I say, soccer ball?
And just like that, I find myself here again.
And, as much as I complained about going to another soccer game, I enjoyed it. It was a big part of my childhood. And so to walk back onto a soccer field and become a spectator again was a little taste of home.
Here I go again.