Monday, March 30, 2020

Coping without tennis

In 2005, we (I was married at the time) had to evacuate our home because of Katrina. It was difficult to find a place that would accept us with our pets, but we found one in central Louisiana. I was blogging for Mother Jones at the time, so I had an ongoing project that kept me occupied. I was also writing parodies (a long-time interest of mine), so that, too, kept me occupied.

Cooped up in an old, once-grand hotel in a small room with two cats would have been difficult enough on its own, but of course, we were watching the news and seeing and hearing horrific things that I will never be able to erase from my mind. We also didn't know if we would have a house to which we could return (our house was safe from water, but not from wind).

Our hotel room had a poor excuse for a television, but at least we had a television. And we had the U.S. Open. Never had I been so happy to watch the U.S. Open (this would happen all over again several years later when we had to evacuate to Birmingham because of Hurricane Isaac). My writing kept me busy, yes, but I was writing about exceedingly unpleasant things. Tennis--not for the first time in my life--saved me from further despair.

The Bailey Hotel (photo by Diane Elayne Dees)

People who do not follow any sports have no idea about the emotional outlet that is provided by watching and following professional and collegiate sports. Right now, sitting in my house, about 40 miles from New Orleans, I'm having a lot of Katrina-like feelings. And while it's a lot more comfortable here than it was in that hotel in Bunkie (where we were treated with great kindness), I have no live tennis to watch. I'm not much of a classic tennis viewer, though I tune in from time to time, so that is a limited outlet for me.

There is also an irony. I frequently think (sometimes with guilt) about ways that I could use my time if I weren't watching so much tennis. Now I have that time, but I can't leave the house except to walk and go to the grocery store. There is no Charleston (more on that in another post), and there is no French Open, and those are my two favorite tournaments.

Not being able to watch tennis is, of course, a petty complaint within the context of a national crisis, especially this crisis, which is made worse every day by a complete lack of leadership. But during times of crisis, all forms of entertainment become very important, as do all forms of art. We do what we can to promote our emotional health and to escape from our fears.

I miss the WTA. In the meantime, I'm finally watching Gilmore Girls (why did it take me 20 years?!), which is making me laugh every day, and helping to keep me sane. Tennis will return, and when it does, we will all have a fresh appreciation of the tour, it's amazing depth, and it's collection of wonderful characters.