Hurricane Sandy, day seven, still without power. We spent the first three nights braving it out in the cold and dark, then the second three nights at my in-laws in Brooklyn. Yesterday, we packed the car and the kids, the cat and the lizard and headed to my mom and step-father’s house.
The kids stretched out like lazy cats with all the new space. We played cards and chess and they ran in circles, up and down the stairs. They had baths in their giant whirlpool tub and we had to fish them out using chocolate marshmallows as bait. Shiny and towel fresh, we plopped them on the couch for a movie.
In the morning, we woke up and my mom had set us up with a tennis court. Disaster? What disaster? Why don’t I come here more often?
It had been quite a few years since my mom and I found ourselves in this position. Back when I was young, we used to randomly play, but I was always so incessantly aggravated by her competitiveness, that I could never play well. Every point she’d get, she’d call out the score, which unnerved my every nerve. Plus, she was hot and sexy and I always had a few pounds to lose, which made watching her bounce across the court in her little short shorts extra annoying.
Back then, I was so wrapped up in killing her that I tried to kill every point, and ultimately killed my game. We were two opposing forces posturing for power. I was 20 years younger, but she had, and still has, a fortitude and vitality that you simply don’t find in average people. She’s a spit fire. A fire cracker. A hundred pounds of boogie-oogie-oogie. You’d think she was made of Red Bull instead of whipped cream, sun flower seeds and garden burgers. In an average day she might play tennis, go to the gym, take a long walk and dance the night away. Did I mention, she runs her own business as well?
The only time I see her sleep is when she comes to babysit and by some unknown circumstance actually sits down. One minute, she’ll be crawling the floors with the kids on her back, running up and down stairs to get them snacks, begging them to dance and play with her; but when they’ve finally tired of her and turned to their iTouches or SpongeBob, she might discover the couch under her taut behind. Almost immediately, she nods out.
So here we are again, across the court from each other, a mother and a daughter preparing to face off. It should be no contest, she’s a league winning player, while I’m scrappy, inconsistent and haven’t played in years, but… I’m younger and faster. She hates that. It makes me smile with affection. My mother is like no other.
I suggest just volleying back and forth for practice and exercise, but my mom just can’t. She needs to keep score. So we play. I know her game – she’s very consistent and is great at returning shots, but doesn’t have real power. I have always been a reasonably strong player; my inconsistency and emotions, being my greatest obstacle.
I don’t know if it’s because I’m older, or because our relationship is wonderful and no longer filled with angst, but I’m calm and controlled. I play easily, not great, but with few mistakes, and soon am winning five games to love.
I see the panic and frustration across the court. She’s stomping a bit and Oy Veying here and there. If there were a can, she’d kick it. She can’t help herself. Losing is not something she does with grace. But she sure is cute.
We get down to the final point and I’m torn. Knowing her battle, a big part of me wanted her to win. But I wanted it too. I no longer take her win-at-all-costs personality personally. I’m secretly cheering her on. I think about throwing the game. Just one game, so she could have a little something to hold on to.
I toss the ball, ace out that last point and smile happily. Turns out, I’m just like my mom. Lucky me.