Thursday, June 7, 2012

Awesome Realization About Recent Solo Trips

I went to Reno and Vegas this year alone.  I didn't travel with anyone, I didn't stay with anyone.  While this didn't bother me, I admit it makes for many lonely meals, lol.

Most people responded confused, with a weird look on their face, "you came by yourself?"

Hmm... well, what's wrong with that?

Turns out that while I decided to stay alone so I could focus on playing my best, and to travel alone simply because there was no one who could travel to the same tourneys, the trips turned out to be a Godsend for me.

Whoever we travel with, that's who we hang out with.  Whoever we decide to room with, that's who we normally spend the most time with.

Because I stayed and traveled by myself to a week long trip to Reno (Bar Table Championships) and two weeks in Vegas (for ACS Nationals and BCAPL Nationals), something pretty awesome happened:  I met and became friends with new people!

When we travel around the country playing this awesome game we love, we recognize the many faces we see a lot, but not often do we get to hang out with new people and feel so good about new friendships.

While in Reno, Kim Benson Broughton (former WPBA pro) saw that I was by myself one day and asked if I wanted to chat about our recent 9ball tourney finishes.  I met many people through her the next couple of nights and really enjoyed getting to know this wonderful woman.  She co-owns a pool room in Reno and it's always nice to meet women who give back to the pool world through businesses.

The last night in Reno, I sat next to Leslie Bernardi, fellow competitor and former Master player from California, in the casino at the table game Let It Ride for hours and we chatted all night long.  We decided since it was the last night in Reno and the tourney was over, that we could have a few shots.  One hundred shots of Crown later, lol, we are still drinking and then meet up with pro player Sal Butera.  Sal owns a pool room in CA and had very recently lost his Mom.  My heart ached for him so badly as he shared with us the sad news, as my Mom had recently passed and my emotions were still very raw.  I cried (as he held it together), as he drank tequila and Leslie and I had more Crown, lol.  Sal is the son of the famous Machine Gun Lou Butera.

It was so cool that last night in Reno hanging out with Leslie and Sal, and getting to know new friends.  Our friendship would not end in Reno, as we would meet up again in Vegas.

When I traveled to Las Vegas three months later, I went to the ACS Nationals... also by myself.  I didn't know how many people would be there that I knew, as I usually only played in the BCAPL Nationals and therefore was not sure how many people go to ACS.

The very first person I see is Janet Ybarra.  She runs the Texas ACS State Tourney and she was there in October when I won her event.  As soon as I saw her, she hugged me tightly and then asked who I was with.  Surprised my boyfriend couldn't get off work, she would watch my matches the next few days.

That first afternoon, we sat by the awesome Tropicana pool and talked like little school girls for hours, getting to know each other.  And one night we ventured out together and went to a real nice dinner and then walked the strip.  It was so cool to get out and visit the town I love with a new friend.  She has a huge heart and a great personality.

I saw two other people I knew from Texas at the ACS tourney - Charlie and Nancy Smith.

While I run into this awesome husband/wife team all the time, I hadn't really had the opportunity before to spend quality time with them.  Attending the ACS alone was a also blessing, as I was able to spend long hours with Charlie and Nancy.  They would watch my matches and support my progress, and I would watch Charlie place 2nd in the Super Seniors division!  I was so proud. :)  They treated me like one of their own children, and I welcomed the unconditional love I felt.

Then when I moved over to The Mirage, I met more people who also love Let It Ride and we would meet up almost everyday to share how our days went.  Most were there for meetings or conventions, and here I was a little pool player competing in a big pool tournament down the street at another casino.  It was cool!

Then when I arrived at The Riv for the BCAPL Nationals, I would hang out with people I normally wouldn't have, had I had a roommate or travel buddy.  I hung out with my teammate Monica (Moni) several times the rest of the week, including a very special lunch date on Mother's Day that was an extremely tough day for both of us. 

Moni and I have known each other for years and are good friends, but we haven't had any recent chances to spend quality time together, due to personal things we were going thru and because our homes are almost an hour apart.  

One sunny afternoon I ventured to The Riv pool and run into Kristie Womack and Wendy Kent.  Kristie is the famous BCAPL ref and the smallest woman on earth with a huge heart.  Wendy is from Oklahoma and we only see each other in Vegas, altho we hit it off right away the first time we met a few years ago at the Riv bar.  Both are truly awesome women.

We all hung out and got some good rays and then they invited me and Moni to check out The Rio and then to go downtown to Fremont street.  I hadn't been to either in years, and Moni had never been.  So, Moni and I tagged along with a large group of great people to check out the future BCAPL Nationals Venue (The Rio) and then to check out the street party downtown.

It was a lot of fun to hang out with friends away from the tourney setting.  We smiled and laughed a lot and had a truly wonderful time!

I was also able to spend quality time with my friend Heather who is a great friend from Florida.  She always checks on me each month and I have been so distant, yet she still texts me (even tho I barely respond) because she knows how close my Mom and I were.  I was able to have a great lunch with her and her fiance' one day and joined by two awesome friends of hers from Florida who's hearts are filled with greatness.  All of them would keep in touch throughout the week to see how we were all doing in the team events.  I felt very loved. 

I met up with Sal in Vegas only for a brief moment, as we toasted to our great tourneys.  He would place an eventual awesome 7th place in the Men's Pro Ten Ball Tourney, and my team would win the Women's Open event.  Leslie and I got to hang out a few times to watch matches, eat at the Peppermill, and we texted the entire time.  Even after she flew back to CA for work, she would still follow my progress, as I would cry how much I miss my Mom and wished she was there for my wins.  Leslie was so supportive!

I was also able to have a solo lunch with my dear friend Kelly.  Kelly and I have known each other for several years and met through other pool players.  Even though we always promised to meet up for lunch or dinner while I'm in Vegas, we never had had a chance to.  Until this trip!  It was SO wonderful to get to know her and hear how her life is.  And she would listen with an open heart to my words.  I will cherish every moment with her, forever.  I love to be around mature women who enjoy life and their happiness.

While I would have loved to travel with my boyfriend, I am secretly thankful for the solo trips this year because I was able to meet new friends and create a bond that only pool players can understand. 

I am so happy for the new relationships I have been privileged to recently.  I'm so internally elated, and know I needed these friendships because it's been such a tough year.

While all this seems so obvious - if you travel alone you meet new people, duh.  I think what sets this apart for me is:
  1. I hardly ever travel alone,
  2. I'm actually pretty shy when I don't know people, and so I don't normally hang out with new people, 
  3. The new people I met were very genuine and caring, and I need that right now,
  4. I got to spend quality time with some dear friends, but mostly:
  5. I think it's awesome I REALIZED how personally fruitful these trips were for me!
I could have easily went on with my normal self, getting back into the swing of things at work, and moved on in my daily life.

But you know what?  I am GRATEFUL.  I truly am.  I have no family anymore, and therefore friendships are all I have.

And I want to savor my new friendships.  This all may seem very minuscule to others, but to me, relationships are important.  And make for a solid LIFE.

Every person I mentioned in this blog (and the many others I didn't mention who I spent  a little time with on these two trips, like Andy W, Cristina, Darnell, Kristen, C, Vicki W, Sunny, Amanda, Yvette, Lisa E, Jennifer P, etc.), I have a valuable relationships with.

And for that, I am truly grateful. 

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