Monthly Archives: February 2016

Our Parents Play Tennis

We are on a family vacation, with just my four adult siblings and their spouses, (no grandkids!) and we are playing tennis.

Tennis has been part of my family’s vacations and holidays for as long as I can remember, and the in-laws have sort of had to accept it as part of marrying into our family.

I walk up to the courts, hearing the familiar thwacking that has come to signal leisure in my brain, and start watching my parents. Dad slams a backhand that whizzes just over the net, and Mom answers it with a ripping forehand that sends him running.

Were they this good at tennis when we were growing up? I don’t remember them being so good.

It really isn’t snobby, my parents’ affinity for tennis. It isn’t WASPy, they do not wear argyle. And yet seems to represent something I can’t quite figure out—perhaps that they have made it. After raising five kids, working forty years at the same job, the job that paid for the mortgage on the house in the suburbs, and college, and weddings, the job that has almost run its full course, tennis is what my parents have decided to do with their now-disposable income. Private lessons with friends. Trips to California to watch a tournament. A subscription to the Tennis Channel.

And now, they are delighted to have all of their grown children here playing tennis all together! They quickly offer up their court so we can play, Mom handing out extra visors to anyone who dares wear one. But it is ugly, the way we play this game. I shank an unintentional lob off the frame of my racket. My brother slams an overhead into the net. We all lose our serves. It is hilarious fun, but as we play I wonder if there is not some correlation between the life my parents have had and their love for this most privileged of sports.

They belong to the generation where people picked a real job in college and stuck with it. They were doctors or lawyers or business people. No one was writing tweets for a living. My older siblings are all smart and hard working, with good jobs that show potential for a tennis-playing future, but I don’t really know about myself.

I belong to the millennial generation, the one that suffers from the dreaded “E” word. At age 27 I have already jumped to a second career path, hoping that my real love of writing will someday turn itself into a way to pay rent. But currently I am sort of floundering through my working life, wondering how we could possibly afford to have children in this city, let alone buy a house or pay for college.

I’m pretty sure my parents didn’t learn to play tennis until their adult years, so as I watch my nearly-retired father place an effortless volley right down the line, I wonder, will I get there? Is it in my generation to have the career that can support the five kids and the house and the college and the weddings?

Maybe we will get to be where they are someday. Or maybe they just don’t make ’em like they used to.

Our parents play tennis, and they are so much better than any of their kids.


I Miss Dancing

My job requires that I spend my days watching commercials. At worst they are un funny, at best they are still selling something.

But then I came cross this lovely piece.

It caught me unaware, so sublime amidst the sea of products and taglines and capitalism. It stirred up all the feelings I had when I could still call myself a dancer. Even though I am much older and less flexible now, even though it has been years since I’ve set foot in a dance studio, I feel no less longing for it now than I did then.

I was struck with the realization that I have now totally lost something I used to love so much.

I thought how maybe the most unfortunate part of being an adult is having to give up your hobbies, or having to pick the ones that make you money over the ones that just make you happy.

I miss dancing. Even though it’s been so long that I now get dizzy after a single pirouette and it hurts to point my toes– I still miss it. I miss moving my body to a beautiful piece of music. There is nothing like it, and I will never do it again. Yes, I could take a class here or there, but I will never again enjoy those after school hours hanging around the studio, changing from one sweaty outfit to the next, going from ballet to jazz to hip hop. I miss the simplicity of it. The cluelessness of how lucky I was.

The piece in this video is about loss and rebuilding. Since adulthood I have tried to rebuild parts of that love, with things like group exercise classes at the gym or now yoga. There is a teacher and music there, bodies exchanging energy, there is even an emotional element. But there is no story.

I miss the story. I miss dancing.

Here is the link to the creative behind the idea. I believe in giving credit.