Today’s warm breeze in DC greets me a little earlier in the year than I am accustomed to. Growing up in a small college town outside of Buffalo, New York and residing in Rochester, New York for the better part of my adult life, windows opening to permit fresh air feasibly could not occur until May, at the earliest. Fortunately after relocating this past year, March is my new reality for wide-open windows.
Today’s warm breeze reminds me of the opportunity May breezes used to bring. My adolescent version of May marked the commencement of freedom in my small hometown. College students returned to their respective homesteads’ and I was able to reclaim my favorite features of the college, without the pesky existence of grown human babies waddling in my way. Mostly, I was eager to occupy the college’s tennis courts, a place that witnessed my many trials and tribulations as a (mediocre) tennis player.
Today’s warm breeze transfers me to my high school tennis days, and more specifically my patient and witty coach, Mr. H, a 60+ man donning the physique of an unassuming Santa Claus, except his version of the red hat was a standard L.L.Bean-esque worn and faded canvas-colored baseball cap. Mr. H could be three courts over coaching two other tennis players, but somehow he had an acute knack for witnessing my errors in my forehand swing. Every time he caught my error, Mr. H would patiently, yet urgently, jog over and repeat the same verse, “Stop and swing through the ball, McCormick! Keep your wrist strong! Bend at the knees while you swing t-h-r-o-u-g-h the ball!” He would then make me pause and watch him gracefully bounce a ball, swing his racket, and pivot whilst powerfully swinging t-h-r-o-u-g-h the ball. Although I intuitively knew his redirection was necessary, my biggest enemy, my high school ego, would always be left inherently frustrated that I struggled in this way. Yet, in my post-pubescent tennis playing days, I find solace in the soundtrack of Mr. H’s songs of advice; more than a decade later, his advice still assists me, like my own personal doubles partner.
Today’s warm DC breeze leaves me longing to flee my bedroom-turned-teacher-office and pick up my racket to volley. I long for the familiar feeling of my powerful two-handed backhand, my swift gets, my forever-improving forehands. I long for the comfort of the routine of playing a sport I have played so many times before. I long for the confidence of “I got this” because the internal anxiety demon is not-so-secretly wondering, Do any of us got “this”? While I may need to defer my yearning to pick up my racket for a few more months, I find comfort in knowing Mr. H’s refrain will be on repeat inside my head and I don’t plan to miss a beat or a ball.