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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Waning and Waxing Moons of Athletic Endeavor

After a bruising, conflict-ridden night at basketball a couple of weeks ago, a novel thought crossed my mind: "Why am I doing this?"

Why have I played basketball every Thursday night for the last eight years? Am I getting better or working toward any particular goal? Does the wear and tear on my body make up for the cardio workout I get? Is basketball inherently more enjoyable to me than other forms of exercise?

For lo these many years I have guarded Thursday night at the gym as a religious rite, only to be missed in the direst of circumstances. I've persevered through injuries, illnesses, worn out shoes, knee pads, ankle braces and countless pairs of contact lenses. But a couple weeks ago, I decided I was done. At least for now.

The decision might have been prompted by having had a great time dancing at a Thievery Corporation concert the previous week. Jimmimoose and I scored free tickets, had a few beers and I danced until I was a sweaty ball of exhaustion. At no point was I angry with anyone, causing myself pain, or frustrated at my lack of ability to execute a maneuver. In short, it was a thousand times better than basketball... and being tipsy was actually a benefit rather than a hindrance.

In the following days, I thought of all the things that I might enjoy more than basketball (and that I may be able to continue enjoying into old age.) In the summertime, the thought of tossing a frisbee around on a grassy field, playing softball and improving my tennis game all came to mind. So now begins my quest to pursue these interests and to see what else sparks my curiosity.

The first bold stroke of this campaign was to participate in a weekend mixed-doubles tennis tournament hosted by my friend Kelly. Olaiya and I drove out past the mountains, rivers and snow-packed pine forests to the isolated town of Mozama, WA. We spent the weekend in the company of cheery people who knew how to eat, drink, dance and play tennis. The Mozama Country Inn played host to the invasion of tennis players.

Me and O at a scenic view rest stop along the North Cascade Highway.

Friday, I played in my first ever competitive tennis match. It had been years since I had even played an actual game of tennis (as opposed to just rallying back and forth, never keeping score.) I had to be reminded of subtleties like which side of the court was mine after we changed ends, or who served first during a tie-breaker. But with Olaiya rooting me on, my partner Janine and I triumphed 7-6 (10-8) in the longest (and most exciting!) match of the whole tourney.

Janine and I kicking butt.

Saturday's match was pretty anticlimactic, as we drew an easy match and won 6-4 despite playing poorly. This meant we would play Sunday in the semifinals. Knowing that I had a match at 9am the next morning, I stayed up late drinking beer from a local microbrew pub (Twisp River Pub dunkle weiss) and dancing to 70's funk rock under a disco ball. O and I were having way too good of a time to be conservative.

The only thing standing between us and the finals was my partner's husband's team... and he was a tennis pro that teaches down in California. I had watched him and his partner take out some very good players in the tourney already (including knocking out Kelly, the tourney organizer.) We played them tough (maybe tougher than anyone else) but ultimately lost 7-6 (9-7). We had our shot, but couldn't string together any points or break his serve during the tie-breaker. Our consolation was watching the team that beat us go on to win the final fairly easily.

Dressed in black and feeling deadly.

Olaiya and I made the long, gorgeous drive home back to Seattle. Then drove down to the courts and played another hour of tennis against each other. I think next year she'll be ready to jump into the tournament herself. In the meantime, I can't get enough tennis.



At 5/19/2009 09:51:00 PM, Blogger Olaiya said...

Duuuuder. That dunkel we drank was grrrrrowlin! Rock on, bra.

At 5/25/2009 09:26:00 AM, Blogger CLanterman said...

Hey John Bai, (from your LL post) I'd be up for Tennis anytime (or pretty much any other sport). I have two rackets as well if anyone needed to borrow one. Just let me know if you guys need another person.


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