One of our neighbors mentioned a couple of weeks ago that we ought to play tennis. "Sure," I told him, "I haven't played tennis in eight years, but sure, we can play." Turns out he was not just making small talk. He called yesterday wanting to play. I dug out my tennis racket from the attic where several summers of 140-degree-heat had just about melted the plastic on the handle. And off we went to one of the parks that has a tennis court.
I think I'm in pretty decent shape. I go to the gym three times a week where I do machines and aerobics or run a mile. But playing tennis activated back muscles I didn't know were being atrophying. How many muscles can you have? Seriously ...
And playing tennis yesterday brought to mind my previous tennis buddies.
First was Anindya Das, who taught computer science at OU. Because summer evenings in Oklahoma get very hot, we'd play on Saturday mornings at his apartment complex until several of the residents begged him to stop waking them up so early on Saturday. I'm breaking my informal policy of not using friends' names on this blog (after all, they shouldn't have give up their privacy just because I'm writing a blog) to name him because he seems to have dropped off the face of the earth. He left OU to teach in London, Ontario and then apparently left that department. Web searches only show papers written when he was OU, so he must not be a faculty member anymore. Here's hoping that someone who knows him now will let me know where he is!
Then, there was the archaeologist who went with me to Chickasaw and explained the murals and artifacts at the Native American museum there. I remembered writing about him on my "blog", so if you are wondering what my blog looked like in 1997, go read it ... He finished his research, and moved away to a teaching job in the Eastern United States.
And there was the fellow who put himself through school teaching skiing and tennis. Obviously, he was much, much better than me, but he had the patience of a born teacher and the easy-going nature of a kid who spent his summers playing tennis and his winters skiing in the mountains. I loved playing with him even though he would run me ragged and take my serves left-handed. He too moved away, although I do run into him once every couple of years.
And somehow, tennis slowly faded away. I picked up racquetball but that too stopped a few years ago.
My sore muscles today remind me that a little sport is good for the body. And the memories of old playing buddies remind me that it may also be good for the soul. Perhaps it's time to make new friends on the tennis and racquetball courts.