Hit It

  • by Maida Korte

“……I play each point like my life depends on it.”  – Rafael Nadal

The chatter can be heard from beyond the glass door as I peak inside before entering.  Pretty women with manicured nails and bouncy pony tails lace up colorful shoes.  Smart gals all, accomplished and smiling with white teeth and studded earrings, braceleted, bright smiles accompany high-pitched voices.  Most are moms who attend school meetings or write books or create recipes or guide businesses or practice medicine or counsel the hurting – all attending to the dailiness of life – the mundane and the ordinary.  But not today. 

At some sort of secret symbol communicated, these skirted ladies exit down a set of wide stairs and slip past a curtained wall entering a court and a change takes place that is palpable.  The sound of thud and plop as large bags of various sizes drop to the ground, zippers pull back in unison as each woman unveils and brings forth a tennis racquet, the psssttt of air as a can of yellow balls is popped open, the confident walk onto a green court with white stripes, and BLAM THWACK, each woman changes into a warrior.  Slamming a yellow ball at each other with focused determination fills each minute spent behind the tall tarps with an adrenaline boost shocking their systems back to a battlefield roar of accomplishment. 

It looks like tension being hurled across a net as legs fly and feet fast and eyes drilled before the ball ever gets there – the smack of balls hitting racquets reverberates sending ripples of emotion through the wide and open space.  Each woman focusing her will as much as her weapon toward the sense that this moment, this now, is all that matters.  Hit THIS.  Look at THIS.  Do THIS.  Life is filled with the vague matters of the mind as we navigate the nuanced elements that fill our days.  We all develop patterns of living where our days fill necessarily with the mundane and ordinary, but longing for the crispness of a single decision with a sure outcome.  Fulfilling responsibility is the tapered and often endless path before us with the occasional refueling stops. The road winds a ribbon toward a future that is unpredictable and often unknowable.  We know this and yet the vast inner space we carry in our heads and hearts churns machine-like with duties married to yearning.  The mediaval taking to court for a joust is perhaps one way to describe why a mother of three or five or two would shed leggings and boots for skirt and sports bra and brave the arena where lines are clearly drawn and a win is a crisp moment in time.  Now.  Done.    

I took a long hiatus (35 years) from tennis and returned to the battlefield 18 months ago. None of my skirts fit me any more and I found it necessary to get past my embarrassment of veined legs and thick waistline.  My old racquet is not made any longer as wood is a relic from the past, now hanging on my garage wall as a reminder that I have aged.   Four daughters grown, four sons-in-law and eight grand-children (my loves), a once thriving design-build business now turned simple referrals from the past, driveable road trips with Andy, endured plane rides with hand grasped landings, books being my comfort place of words and visions, friends that are one of life’s rare pleasures unearned, siblings who know me now and when I was a young selfish loud unfiltered girl and yet I have an inner longing still.  It is possible to find satisfaction in multiple venues and I search and discover that a sense of accomplishment keeps my anxiety at bay. This needn’t be large accomplishments like a Nobel Peace prize, but something between that and a writer’s deadline could possibly help.    Perhaps crossword puzzles but not every day can be Monday, I consider cardio exercise but my mind wanders and I am undisciplined, or maybe developing a YouTube channel but I worry about the lines on my face – so I return as an aged gladiator to the arena to stand my post and take my turn as the first ball careens across the net towards me.  Ready, patience, see, watch, run, step, quick, turn, contact, follow-thru, again.

The roar inside their heads begins to slow as the final ball careens across the court.  Someone won today and gentle smiles return to womanly faces as racquets find housing once again in colorful bags. Warriors all with hugs of congratulations and promises made for tomorrow.  These women return to their ordinary lives of mysterious obligations armed with the knowledge that they are athletes.  Striving and reaching and growing – the joust and the court will be swept and made ready for next time – for now the glass of congratulatory wine awaits. 

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