Monday, April 15, 2013

A Skirt Full of Balls

Just chillin' with my girl Venus.

It’s been five months since my bowling career went belly-up.  And no, I wasn’t asked to leave (as predicted); I left of my own volition.  

With some friendly coaxing, I decided it was time to try something else.  Something that’s part exercise, part social engagement, part looking cute, and part competition.  Oh, and part drinking wine.

I joined a tennis league.

I had started playing and taking lessons back in January.  Before I knew it, moms at my sons’ school were coming out of the woodwork.

“I play tennis.”

“I play, too.”

“I wanna play.”

“You know I used to play?”

“We should play!”

“I’m just getting back into it, too!”

“Do you do that clinic on Thursdays?”

“That coach is good but I do ‘privates’ with this coach.”

I was soon asked to join my club league (not because I have actual talent but because they needed an actual warm body). 

At this point, I’m not quite sure why I said yes.  

I think I thought it was the logical thing to do.  It’s exercise.  It’s something of my own vs. my young sons’ many activities.  My husband has his golf that makes him so happy.  I need a hobby.  I can have tennis.  I can play it for many years to come.  The better I get at it, the more I’ll enjoy it; and what better way to practice the game, than to compete?  Competition is healthy.  That is what my BRAIN told me when I uttered those fateful words to my friend:

“Sure, I’ll try out for the league with you.”

And this is what my HEART told me, verbatim, and what I spewed all over my husband through my mobile phone, as I drove home from my first match Saturday (I couldn’t wait until I got home because then the kids would see/hear me modeling the WORST kind of behavior):

“It was hell.  The match was hell.  We got our asses handed to us.  My partner kept asking me for strategy.  This was my first real match and I had never met her before!  By the time I figured out how I should best manage the game, how I could best serve our team based on both our and our opponents’ collective strengths and weaknesses, it was WAY TOO LATE.  I was too busy running a constant stream of snarky comments about everyone on the court through the first set.  Anyway, this was supposed to be fun.  What happened on that court was the opposite of fun.  Why did I join this league?  I have far more fun taking group lessons and playing with my friends.  How many more weeks do I have to endure this?  And I can’t quit now.  What would I tell Vince and Nick?  ‘Well, mommy decided she didn’t like losing with strangers so she just quit after one match.’  That’s a terrific example for them!”  

And now for what my GUT told me.  The very same words I uttered to my husband Saturday night, after I showered and got myself ready; rode along with he and the boys, and my father-in-law for nine holes of golf; and drank a big glass of wine:

“I know exactly how Vince feels.  When Vince strikes out or misses a play or the other team is in the lead, and I see the frustration begin to grip his little body, I tell him: ‘Don’t get upset.  It’s just a game.  Have fun.  Just stay positive, try hard and do your best.’  That can be a really freakin’ hard thing to do.  Not doing well SUCKS.  Losing SUCKS.  Disappointing yourself SUCKS.  ”

“Now we know where Vince gets it.”  Jeff smiled.

“I know.”  I paused.  “I really want to do this.  I want to get better.  I want to work at this thing that is independent of you guys and my work and I want to get better.  I want to feel what it’s like to work hard and win and even sometimes lose at something that is just for me.  I want to feel physically stronger and faster.  I want to stretch myself with this.”

“Then stick with it.”

We sat in silence for a few moments.

“I have my next match Wednesday."  I paused and processed what could transpire that evening.  "We’re probably going to need more wine.”