Tuesday, January 12, 2010

How Sweet It Is

I’m not sure there’s a whole lot to say about this, but it needs to be commemorated. Yesterday at the end of tennis clinic…I didn’t look at the time, but I should have…Laura the Tennis Pro finally said the words we all (well, at least I) have been waiting years to hear. She said, “You guys are really good.”

Wait. Maybe she said, “You guys are really getting good.”

Or, “Wow, you guys are good.”

It’s my lot in life that moments like this, moments that I crave for such a long time, come and go so quickly – and send me into such a giddy shock – that I can’t even remember them millisecond by millisecond so I can replay them in my mind and savor them.

It’s not that Laura is stingy with praise; she’s not. She always tells us when we’ve hit a good ball, or that we’re improving at a particular shot. But this was different. This was the affirmation that we’ve tried to draw out of her, sometimes coyly, sometimes outright, for what seems like ever.

I remember years ago, getting up my nerve and asking her something like, “So, we’re getting better, right?”

We miss a lot of shots and sometimes we don’t know where on the court we’re supposed to be. It’s taken a long time for each of us to stop being afraid – of playing the net, of running backwards, of hitting hard, of wanting to win. And when I’d asked Laura that question, fishing for some much-anticipated narrative about our improvement, she answered positively. But not in the way I wanted.

Her answer was Yes. But it was accompanied by this little motion she does with her head – sort of a side-to-side nod – which means, “yes, you’re improving, but you still have a long way to go.”

Yesterday’s feedback was different. No one had asked. No one was even paying attention to her. The four of us were just playing a game, doing our jobs, and Laura’s head was perfectly still when she said it – whatever it was she said.

She was smiling and proud and in spite of my not remembering her precise words, I knew exactly what she meant.

OMG! You guys seem like you sort of know how to play tennis now!

For this klutzy, non-athletic, tennis latecomer that was 100% sweetness. Totally worth the wait.

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