Friday, September 2, 2011
Photo of Jankovic from here.
I'm not much of a tennis player. I know no rules, have no partner and certainly don't have the proper attire. However, when I was younger I took lessons and a small percentage of what I learned at the Malibu Community Center summer tennis school has stayed with me.
Lately, I've been really wanting to head back over to my local rec center and hit the ball back and forth (something I used to do quite often). There's a perfect "handball" court that's been screaming my name. It's just hard to make the time, etc. I really wanted to make it happen before the holiday weekend, though, so last night I followed through. In fact, I was so delighted by the chain of events that occurred from the moment I left work. Let me walk you through them:
***left work, thinking I'd go home, change into "tennis" outfit and walk over to rec center. As I'm about to park, the Proclaimers' (I'm Gonna Be) 500 Miles comes onto KFOG and I couldn't seem to stop the car, the song just carried me along the road. I thought: I need to sing this song until it's over.
***It conveniently carried me all the way my dry cleaners, where I picked up my recent drop-off (checking things off the to-do list without intending to is really one of life's little pleasures). I already had my "tennis" outfit in the car and, given that the dry cleaners is around the corner from the rec center, I thought maybe I could change there and then. I called upon the kindness of strangers (but is the woman who works at the dry cleaners really a stranger at this point? Sadly, no) and asked her if I might be able to change my outfit in their little back room. Success! She even expressed concern that I might be cold when I appeared in my "skimpy tennis" outfit. I assured her that I had a hoodie in the car.
***Great! Dressed in my "skimpy tennis" outfit, I had my racket and 3 yellow tennis balls. All set and ready to head over to the court! There are two sections to the handball court. One was taken over by a very informal ballroom dance class for junior high students. The other was taken over by a very small toddler with a skateboard. He was in that stage where it doesn't matter where he was, but rather what he was doing took precedence (a wise age). He slowly made his way out of MY way and I took over the court. His mom and I smiled at each other which assured me that I wasn't ruining his playtime, thus commencing my tennis playing guilt-free.
***With the sun behind the rec center building, I whacked the ball against the wall with the cool air surrounding me. It felt SO good to rally back and forth, back and forth. By the way, I'm not very good at this "sport." Like I said, there are no rules: no foul lines, no US Open serving method, no foot patterns (???), no clue. I just needed to hit that ball! You get it. You should try it some time.
***Things became magical for me when the ballroom dance teacher pressed play on the battery operated boom box. Enya's Carribean Blue became by tennis soundtrack. On replay, no less! It was amazing. I was suddenly in slow motion, as teenage dance partners danced to my left. Some of them wouldn't get off their cellphones, some wouldn't get close enough to touch, but their collective energy (united by Enya) was the perfect partnering to juxtapose my single tennis match.
***Just as the soccer practice behind me started wrapping up, I realized my time had come too. My "swing" was weakening, my "arm" was tired and I "might" have rolled my ankle a few times. My ball became stray, traveling over to the adorable girls who had just finished soccer practice and were waiting for their parents. As I was about to fetch it, I hear them in unison: "I want to get the special ball! I want to get the special ball from the special tennis lady!" They fought over it, but alas, only one could toss it back to me, "the special tennis lady." I said thank you, noticing how saying thank you to an 8 year-old is possibly the loveliest sound. I might have heard murmurs after that of the "she's not even that good" variety, which wasn't the loveliest sound. But at least they know their tennis, which is more than I can say.
***Afterward, I went home to watch Jeopardy's Teachers Tournament, where one of the contestants was one of 2 students to help integrate her high school in Colorado. It was maybe the first time I ever got choked up watching Jeopardy. Then I biked over to my favorite yoga class (go big or go home was last night's motto). My teacher asked if we had any requests and I took advantage of the radio silence and said "lower back!" (because mine's been tight lately). She gave me lots of special treatment during class: back massage during child's pose, neck and shoulder rub here and there, a spritz of rose water while in shavasana. It was very restorative and calming.
***I biked home in the dark, singing Gillian Welch songs. I love flying by the late diners at Delfina, the crazy people waiting in line at BiRite Creamery, and the open doors to clubs, where folk bands play on stage. After the big day, it was officially bedtime.
***Afterthoughts: this morning I woke up feeling better than I have all week. This week has been one of the more challenging ones and I was nervous about going into this long holiday weekend with a bad attitude. Thanks to last night (the dry cleaners, the Proclaimers, the ballroom dancers, the soccer players, the "tennis" star *me*, Enya, teacher Viki from Jeopardy, teacher Elizabeth from yoga, Gillian Welch for existing, full-force San Francisco residents out and about on a Thursday night, knowing how to truly live) I feel SO excited for what's to come! I feel OPEN.