Last night I had a dream that I missed tennis. I play on Mondays at noon – I’ve played this slot for four years – but for some reason, in my dream, I thought I was supposed to play at four. I spent the whole dream biding my time, taking on a little chore here and a little errand there, but mostly just waiting for four o’clock to roll around so I could go and fill my heart’s desire.
At about quarter to four (Dream Time) I was donning my tennis togs when I got a call from my mother. She needed a ride somewhere at 4:30 and I told her I couldn’t do it, but I didn’t tell her why.
I was too ashamed to tell my mother that I wouldn’t drive her to a doctor’s appointment because it conflicted with my tennis clinic. The tennis clinic that I anticipate all weekend long and that often singlehandedly gets me through the rough or tedious parts of the weekend. Even after all these years, Monday Tennis makes me giddy. I might be folding my eighth load of laundry, or watching my son try to perfect his Disappearing Coin trick for the four millionth time, and just when I think, I can’t do this for one more second, I remember that it’s only some two-digit amount of hours until tennis and I become so happy I could do a little jig.
I feel more entitled to my Monday Tennis than I do practically anything else in my life. I won’t schedule meetings at that time – even if it’s the only time that the other ten people can meet. I’ll put off doctor’s appointments. If finances are an issue I’ll happily forego all restaurant eating and movie going.
When (in the dream) I realized that my tennis clinic was actually at noon, not at four, and that I’d missed it, I was distraught. I went into a kind of dreamworld panic and irrationally began grasping at ways I could repair the mistake I’d made. There must be a way to turn back time, I dream-thought. And then, This must be some sort of bad dream!
I woke up sweaty and agitated, the way people sometimes do when they emerge from general anesthesia.
The whole thing would be funny except for this: I continue to believe that tennis – playing it and thinking about it and even writing about it – is actually the thing that’s keeping me sane.