I had played on teams for years before I understood that the “A” in “Bring your A game” didn’t stand for Alexandria. But I liked that it did. I mean I always knew that it meant the coach wanted us to be our best. To do our best. For ourselves. For our team. For our hometown – Alexandria. I suppose, in a joyful way, I will always want to do my best for this place.
Now there are other cities that do this for me as well. New York. Paris. They make me want to be a better artist. A better human. I read books by great authors, in hopes of becoming a better writer. I visit museums. Watch videos. Sketch. Learn. Repeat. And maybe most importantly, I try to surround myself with people who are doing the same. Not the same things necessarily, but trying to do their best at whatever they do. Because as we learned in school, you always play better against the better team.
My mother (Ivy) didn’t know anything about sports. But oh, did she have game! And she brought it. Even in her toughest times. She brought it with style. Elegance. Lipstick. Grace. And an endless supply of breath mints in her purse. She taught me more about winning than any coach. Any team. Winning was playing when you didn’t feel like it. Winning was getting up. Getting dressed. Presenting your best self to this world. Not to convince them, but to convince yourself — you were worthy, you were someone. Winning was laughing beyond the tears. Winning was loving, beyond a cracked heart. Winning was teaching your daughter to be her best. Do her best.
I have a lot to live up to. That is not pressure, but a welcome challenge. The sun is coming up. I reach for the best inside of me — not just my A-game, but my I-game as well. I smile in the mirror. And put a breath mint in my purse.