Friday june 24, 2011
(sorry I don’t have a single photo to go with this article.)
Today I got to play tennis for the last time. I had a good workout with hard singles & doubles. I choked out a simple “Good bye” and then walked off the court with my back to my friends so they wouldn’t see me bawling. They thought I would be back tomorrow. I couldn’t bring myself to say the truth: “I won’t be back here for a long, long time.”
My dear tennis buddy Eric called a week later and said, “Hey, when are you coming back to the court?” I had to say, “I don’t know when” because I couldn’t say “Never,” which is probably the correct answer.
For years I have played tennis three times a week, 2 to 3 hours per day. That is a lot of exercise. Tennis is a central part of my life, my identity, my health, my equilibrium.
Sure, I will be able to find occasional tennis on the road, but it’s not the same. Tennis doubles foursomes are very much like bridge foursomes. They go on for ten, twenty years. There is no point in me going out to a court alone and standing around with a racquet and a long face. Players already have their two or four when they arrive. They don’t show up with 3. They know random players don’t exist.
Tennis is not as popular as it was in the 60’s and 70’s. Football and basketball have taken over in high school because the more players you have on the field, the more parents can show up and cheer. Tennis is also very big in country clubs and private indoor tennis clubs, to which I don’t belong. As a traveler I couldn’t possibly join a club. Occasionally you find organized tennis in city parks. In Tucson I could play every morning at Ft. Lowell Park. Just show up, give them $5, and they would sort 20 or more retirees into sets of four. Without this set up, I would be forced to beg, read bulletin boards, post on Craig’s list and pray for some other player to get sick so I could wheedle my way into a group of regulars. Sadly, I would just have to leave town the minute I got in. So tennis and the RV gypsy life don’t mix.
However, it’s OK!!
Giving up tennis is going to be an easy sacrifice for me because it’s time to head out.
Big Steve has been patiently waiting for me for six long years. He retired from the state of Oklahoma in 2002 after 31 years of service as Motor Pool Director. Since then he has been hanging around the house waiting for me to retire from my job as a self-employed portrait photographer. Don’t get me wrong – Steve was busier than a one armed paper hanger while waiting. The first thing he did upon retiring was to let go of our cleaning lady. He said it would be awkward to watch her putting clean socks in his dresser drawer while he was lying on the bed watching Oprah. So while I was working 60 hours a week on photography, Steve took over everything else — the cooking, cleaning, laundry, 4 acres of yard work and vehicle maintenance. He also did bookkeeping and lots of photo production work and computer repair. Steve is my hero and a jack of all trades. We made a great team. But the clock was ticking on our retirement. 2008 was definitely time for me to hang it up. I’ll have to switch to walking and bike riding for exercise on the road.