A series of goodbyes
Some would call this the homestretch.
Seven days from now, I'll be sitting in my office looking at the same computer monitor I've looked at since January, but I won't be hearing any team captains checking in just outside. I will not hear the sound of pinfall in the distance. Out of habit, I probably will be glancing forward at the score monitor to see what's happening, but there won't be any scores.
At that point, I likely will be knee-deep in Super Brackets and such as I try to get all of the final things posted on USBCopen.com, but I'll also glance periodically at the MapQuest printout next to me on the desk.
While I'm working, Emil Williams Jr. will be contacting the final hometown newspapers of the new champions, and he will begin cleaning out his desk.
The silence usually brings about a period of reflection and mixed emotions.
Yes, after 136 days of competition, there is a feeling of relief to know that another great tournament is in the books. It's also a nice feeling to know that there will be some time to relax and breathe a little before moving forward. But at the same time, there's the uncertainty of days to come and slower pace of cubicle life. There really is no replacement for the hustle and bustle of the Open Championships.
Within a couple of days, computers will be packed up, walls will be knocked down and the concourse at the National Bowling Stadium will be returned to its original condition. Boxes and file cabinets will be packed, furniture will be moved and the truck back to Arlington will depart.
Then, we'll all say our goodbyes. The local employees will have already moved on, and the 40+ travelers and 15 or so managers will wish each other well before scattering across the country. After spending countless hours together, nearly every day for almost five months, it will be over. The 2010 Open Championships will be a memory, and we'll all go our separate ways until 2011.
Some of us will talk occasionally in the offseason, and we'll have a few conference calls to touch base as we prepare for next year's event, but it will be weird not having an office anymore or having people come by with questions or debates. I'll turn around in my office chair, and the scenery will be different.
The people I relied on and shared this experience with no longer will be right down the hall or a four-digit extension away. There won't be a new all-events leader or a bowler with the front seven. My phone won't ring nearly as much as it did during the tournament. There won't be anymore questions about participation or past host cities.
Things will be different, of course, but each goodbye means there are new opportunities on the horizon. It seems that life is a series of goodbyes and new beginnings as we transition from elementary school to middle school to high school to college. Or from junior bowling to the adult ranks.
I learned in the past two weeks, that no matter how far removed you are from something, the people you shared that experience with are never far away, especially with the Internet and social networking sites.
I've had the chance to reconnect with some friends from the past, and many of those meetings happened here on the lanes. First, an old friend appeared at the check-in counter, and the next day, I was interviewing him after he shot 300. We bowled juniors together starting back in 1987, and it was nice to catch up.
This week, I ran into a handful of bowlers from across the state of Florida whom I used to bowl junior tournaments with. I haven't seen most of them since high school, so again, it was nice to catch up and see how they, and people we both knew, were doing in life.
And finally, the very first friend I made when I moved to Florida, also in 1987, came to bowl this week. We've kept in touch over the years and run into each other back home once or twice, but it was nice to see her here and see that she's doing well.
You see, the Open Championships acts as a continuous reunion, not only for me and the thousands of bowlers I've competed with and against and become friends with over the years, but also for the tournament participants and their families, who use the event as a chance to get together annually.
Even though we, and the bowlers, leave the Open Championships and go our separate ways, we have the good memories and stories to hold onto, and we know that there will be another reunion next year, and it probably will feel like no time has passed at all. I believe that is the secret of the Open Championships.
To everyone I worked with or interacted with at the Open Championships this year, thanks for another great year, and I'll see you all again in 2011. For Mr. Smith and Mr. Williams, who are just a week away from waivers, it has been a great run. While I do hope that free agency leads you to exciting endeavors, I also hope that no one was paying attention to your success and talent so that we can have you back next year.
That's the news for now. See you on the lanes.