Every so often, Hannah and I talk about the words we’ll put on our tombstones. It’s not a heavy at all, in fact, ironic and light. Truth be told, upon cashing in our chips, we will donate our bodies to the Medical School at the University of New England (Maine); ergo, there will be no headstone. Still, we think what words would capture our legacy. Recently, Hannah’s latest thought is There.
For me, my latest is He Tried. Let me explain.
Since coming to California, Hannah and I have been transitioning from a focus on hiking to one on pickleball; as we turn 70, we are focusing on growing relationships over the physical challenges of climbing mountains and hiking to waterfalls. When hiking, it’s just the two of us, with the occasional brief conversation with others along the way.
On the other hand, pickleball opens doors for new relationships. At new pickleball venues, we have two to three hours of playing, talking between games, and finding out what we have in common, athletically and individually. Longtime readers of this blog know of the magic we had in north Georgia with the Yonah Mountain Pickleball Club. That association led us a pickleball club party and overnights with two couples in their homes. Click here for that blog.
Last year during our February month in California, we played afternoon pickleball in Santa Barbara. Though we made no connections, I reached out and gave it a shot. Though I came up empty, one could reasonably say, He Tried.
But this year in addition to pickling in Santa Barbara, we are branching out by playing in Ventura (18 miles south of Carpinteria on The 101) Saturdays on the outdoor pickleball courts at the De Anza Middle School.
Ventura Pickleballers with the Mainers
Arriving in Ventura on the Saturday before the Super Bowl, we have a mix of men and women, mostly seniors. Hannah and I eventually find our level, she with the women and me with the guys. As indoor players, we are learning to adjust to the wind as well as hitting overheads with the sun in our eyes.
Dan, John, Leonard, and Rodrigo on the Ventura pickleball courts
Encouraged and sensing a good vibe, Hannah and I return the following Saturday for more play. After our two hours, we sit in collapsible patio chairs, shooting the breeze with the other players.
Pickleballers Bruce and Anneli with the club logo
As Hannah and I walk from the courts, I spot Bruce and mention how much I enjoy his dinking soft game (i.e. hitting short shots just over the net) and thank him for welcoming us. Exchanging business cards, we go our separate ways. Later on the ride home after mentioning my conversation with Bruce, Hannah mentions her play with his wife Anneli, with the summation, She’s good.
With Bruce’s business card in hand and only two and a half weeks left in our stay in Carpinteria, I shoot off an email to add substance to my legacy of He Tried.
Hey Bruce and Anneli,
Thanks for you all including Hannah and me in your Saturday pickleball games. It’s been a treat. We wonder if you and Anneli would like to have a cup of coffee or glass of wine in the coming week or two at our condo in Carpinteria or we’d drive to your place. Just a thought, no pressure. Look forward to pickleball again this Saturday. Dan
(The next day, we get this email from Bruce.)
Anneli, Bruce, and Hannah at the Snapper Jack’s counter
Hello Dan and Hannah,
It is very nice to have you two playing with us while you are visiting California. We would enjoy an off-court visit. Will your schedule allow a lunch time visit next week? Since you offered to come to Ventura, perhaps a stop at our office next week followed by a walk into downtown Ventura? We have several preferred spots for fish or steak tacos if you like. Bruce
It’s always easier staying home, sitting on the couch reading, watching television, or wasting time on the computer or smart phone; there’s no risk. Ah, but there’s often little reward. I want more than being homebound and gagged and give it a shot. Hence, He Tried.
Ten days later, driving down The 101 right on the Pacific Ocean to Ventura, we meet Bruce and Anneli at their office. Intrigued by his career as an architect, I find his explanation of the houses and businesses he designs fascinating. Fortunately he has Anneli to run the show as the business manager. In addition, Bruce volunteers to teach 3rd graders architecture (i.e. perspective drawing).
Having recommended fish tacos for lunch, Bruce and Anneli walk with us to Snapper Jack’s Taco Shack a few blocks away on Main Street. Rocking at 1P, Snapper Jack’s is where we’ll have our very first fish tacos. As you know, when in Rome…
Following Bruce’s lead, I order one soft corn and one crispy flour fish taco with a side of rice and refried beans with tortilla chips to boot. Already, I am thinking we must bring our grandsons, Owen and Max, here when they visit next year.
Al fresco in February with Bruce, Anneli, Dan, and Hannah.
Similar to our walk and talk in twos to Snapper Jack’s, the conversation over lunch flows easily as they are both interested in us as well as share their interesting, active lives. A cliché works here. Two hours fly and it’s like we have new old friends. It’s magic.
Returning to their office, as they do have jobs, we hug good-bye, and part as Bruce says, Thanks for reaching out. He gets it. He appreciates the effort. It’s always worth trying, especially if I am going to earn my epitaph He Tried.
Hannah a way out on the Ventura Pier
Taking Ash Avenue to the walkway across The 101 to the Ventura Pier and Ventura Promenade at Surfer’s Point at Seaside Beach, we see a lone female surfer, head to toe in a wet suit. On a windy afternoon, we walk out the pier and celebrate another sunny day during the “rainy” winter season in southern California.
Palm-lined waterfront Ventura Promenade
Taking the stairs down off the pier, we have a wide waterfront walkway along the Pacific Ocean with the Ventura Fairgrounds to our landward side. With the wind up, we are still comfortable in shorts knowing in two weeks winter is going to slap us in the face. March is still real winter in Maine.
I wonder, were the fish tacos really that good? Or was it the company while eating the fish tacos the reason why they tasted so good? I’d go with door number two.
As a long-time believer in Davy Crockett’s Some days you get the bear, and some days the bear gets you, I am content with my epitaph, He tried.