Early this winter – cold, drenched and ready for sunshine – I suggested we plan a tropical vacation. Ed must have missed the “tropical” and “vacation” part of my conversation, because he started enthusiastically listing all the upcoming handball travel I could start planning, “There’s a tournament in Chicago in March, Anchorage in April, and Calgary in August!” So much for that tropical vacation… I am seeing the world one handball tournament at a time.
Long before we married I knew handball would be part of our lives. It wasn’t too long after we married that I learned that, while Ed believes handball vacations are meant to be spent at the courts, not so much for me. After depositing him to inhale the gym smells for the day in Chattanooga, our rental car took me North to a cornbread festival. After tasting my way down “Cornbread Alley,” an old-school police siren drew my attention. The new Southern friends I’d met (in line to spin the cornbread wheel for a prize) offered to save my place so I could join Barney and Goober for a photo – a highlight of my trip.
Where are Florida and Hawaii on the tournament schedule? Where’s Maine during the Fall colors? Kauai was one of my first tournaments, the one where I vowed to faithfully support Ed’s love of handball. Why not play there again?
The World Handball tournament in Ireland was one that created memories. Determined to make it a vacation and not just handball, despite the ever changing tournament schedule, we managed to rearrange flights in order to arrive a week early. Climbing into our rental car at the airport, Ed learned that, while he anticipated driving on the wrong side of the street, he had to do so while shifting… with his left hand. After a little practice we set out. He drove, I navigated with a map of Ireland sprawled across my lap. We wandered for a bit, following the lead car – that unknown person in front of us (probably as lost as we were). I eventually recognized a street and instructed Ed to turn right, “Heck no! I’m following that car!” We lapped the airport a few times before he mustered enough guts to make a right turn and put us on the highway. Miles later, just as we were settling into the feel of speeding up the highway with oncoming traffic to our right, a sign overhead announced a toll bridge ahead, requiring 3 Euros. “Get off the freeway!” I screamed, “I forgot to get Euros in the airport.” We navigated roundabouts through back roads until we came to a toll parking lot (Euros only) in the town of our destination. A kind, local woman directed us to our hotel using landmarks in place of non-existent street signs. We found it (eventually) and abandoned that car like a hot potato!
It’s an interesting dynamic this sport, where arch rivals one tournament, become partners the next. Handball is a community. Just find a player and you’ve found a friend. And you don’t have to travel far, there are regular local tournaments to fill up your weekend!
Handball hasn’t been all bad. I even got to visit my family in San Diego when Ed, with no military experience, was accepted into the Marine Corp tournament there for a few years. I understand they’re tearing down the courts… I’ll sure miss my family (hahaha).
Such is the life of a handball wife, married to a man who’s married to the sport. I love it, but the Bahamas will have to wait.