For the past quarter century, without exception, I’ve spent the week leading up to Labor Day at the US Open tennis championships in New York City. And since my (and Beyoncé’s) birthday is on September 4, I consider my annual escape to Flushing Meadows a gift I give myself. After all, what could be better for a lifelong tennis player and obsessed fan than an all-access media pass with which I can bear witness, up close, to the world’s most exciting tournament and see just how Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal—the two greatest competitors in sports—get it done, time and time again. Simply put, they’re the best at what they do, something I’ve always strived for myself.
As I write this, with the din of 24-hour cable news in the background, it’s undeniable that we’re all living through complicated, tumultuous, divisive times, to say the least. Right now, even for the gentlest of souls amongst us, to be best presents myriad, nearly unsurmountable challenges. But, alas, we must try.
I can still vividly remember when my second-grade teacher scolded me in front of my classmates, saying, “Just because you always know the answer, Richard, doesn’t mean you should always let everyone know.” I was confused by that, so when I went home and told my mother, herself a college professor, she was clearly furious and told me, “Honey, you’re not better than anyone on this planet, but no one—no one—is better than you. Don’t let anyone dim your light.” As a seven year old, I didn’t quite grasp what she meant, but I remember thinking that my Mom had my back, and that’s all I needed to know. That remains true to this day.
When I moved to Saratoga nearly two years ago now, I was determined to reimagine saratoga living, making it into not only the best magazine Saratoga has ever seen, but also, truly, the magazine this great city always deserved, something I believe we’ve achieved. But how lucky all of us are to be surrounded by so many local institutions who share in that desire to be the best in class. We wouldn’t be Saratoga without boasting about having the greatest racetrack in the country (Saratoga Race Course); or possessing the greatest outdoor cultural arena anywhere (Saratoga Performing Arts Center); or hosting the greatest artists’ colony in America (Yaddo); or rebuilding the greatest small luxury hotel in the land (The Adelphi) and on and on and on.
For a city with fewer than 30,000 residents, Saratoga Springs sure knows its way around demanding the best out of us. My mother was right, Saratoga. Don’t let anyone tell us we aren’t the best. Because at our best, the beauty of our city, the spirit of its people and the power of our natural resources come together in a place we’re all so fortunate to call home. Thanks, Mom.