She can be intimidating if you allow it. Beguiling if you choose. She can appear to be The Most Important Person In The World if you're not careful. Dressed in the newest LuLu Lemon fashion with coordinating bag, she commands our attention as soon as she steps foot on the court. We swarm around her to hear the latest drama of her kitchen renovation saga. Last week she was overwrought with despair upon seeing that the wood stain on the sample board did not translate exactly as anticipated once applied to her oak cabinets.
But we listen to her and offer a shoulder to lean on because this is who she is. This is how we know her and we and love her for it. She wishes no ill-will on anyone (especially a botched stain job) and she is a well-meaning friend to all. She makes her life a beach where all are welcome to frolic among the waves or struggle through the rip tide depending on the moon/mood.
We stood at the net as our instructor fed tennis balls for our volley drill. Each of her volley attempts plunged helplessly to the bottom of the net. "I just can't do it!". Our instructor stopped the lesson and explained that the continental grip she'd been encouraging her to use while at the net would remedy her fallen shots. "I'm not going to do that." was her response.
Then we practiced our overheads and it was literally deja vu all over again. "That continental grip will improve your overhead shots too," explained the instructor. Again, and more emphatically, "I'm just not doing that. I tried it one day and the balls went all over the place!"
An hour and a half later, the lesson was over and she doled out her cash like the rest of us did to pay the instructor. She was already complaining that she was sweating, had to hurry to pick up her kids at carpool and get them all off to their after school activities, go to the store and make dinner before helping out with homework. She still had a full day ahead of her.
As with each of our practice sessions, she left me slightly confused. I came out to practice, one, to have fun and two, to improve my game. That is money well spent to me. She did not seem to accomplish either. Irritable and arguing with the instructor, resisting any advice toward improvement. Maybe her intentions were different than mine? What exactly was she paying for?
Then all of a sudden it was clear to me. Her goals were much different. I had the same carpool, I had the same after school activities to get to and I had the same dinner to make. But my husband leaves work at 5:30pm every night. He calls or texts asking what to pick up at the store and oftentimes just volunteers to make dinner. (It's always steak but that's okay.) Her husband travels for work 4 out of the 5 work days a week.
Maybe she didn’t really care about improving her game but needed companionship. Someone to listen to her and have a real appreciation for the detailed barrage of items on her Things To Do list. Maybe we have a tangible understanding of the importance of her minute by minute duties while others don't always do. What is apparent is that her teammates know she needs to vent and we are quick to oblige.
If that's all she came to the courts for and we were able to help make her day easier to manage, then I'd say it was worth whatever she paid.
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