Yesterday afternoon marked the first real physical activity I’ve had in a while. Not the routinized jaunt on the elliptical trainer, mind you, but straining of muscles, unfamiliar motions. I’m so incredibly stiff and sore today, I can barely move, especially after sitting at my desk in a single position for just a bit too long, which has happened more than once already today. And how did I hurt myself to this degree, you ask? Playing whiffle ball.
I went with Bryan to a cookout at his parents’ house yesterday afternoon. I’d met his dad the previous weekend (and played a few rounds of billiards with them both) but this event resulted in meeting the mom, the brother, the brother’s girlfriend, the “uncle” and his wife. It also meant that the men in the family broke out the whiffle bat and balls for a rousing game of hit-the-roof-or-you-lose in the backyard.
I wandered outside to watch them from afar for a few minutes. It was humid out after one of many short rainstorms that had punctuated the day after a full-blown thunderstorm in the early-morning hours. With the heat, the thickness of the air, the skirt I was wearing and the predominate testosterone of the players, I thought about staying in the shade, out of the game. But as soon as my bare feet sunk into the warm wet of the backyard grass, my girlish tendencies sort of switched off. I was transported back to those days in my own backyard, when my brother-in-law taught me how to hold the bat, swing harder but smarter, watch the ball until it hit the bat. I couldn’t stop myself from elbowing my way into the game. And while it may not have appeared that way to the others involved, that is precisely what I did. Because, as I said to Bryan, I’d much rather play than watch. As the other ladies looked on from the shade of the patio umbrella, I wandered around in the muck fetching balls.
Now, you see, I am not one of those annoying girls who loves to talk about sports and leaves the TV on ESPN so the next man who turns it on marvels at what must be her sexy habit of watching sports all day. Hah. No, my best friends can tell you that I am not like that at all. But I DID play softball. And I DID like it, when my parents weren’t forcing it on me and I wasn’t pissing my pants with anxiety while on deck on a hot July afternoon, sweating through my light-gray #44 T-shirt. And I DO like other active things, like kayaking, gym exercise, taking walks, hiking, occasionally climbing a rock or two. It was that piece of my personality that came alive when I watched them swing the little yellow whiffle bat. So I elbowed. And they relented, patiently.
I didn’t hit the roof, but Bryan did give me the opportunity to come close on two occasions. It was enough to make me want to try again someday, if I’m still in the picture come their next backyard pick-up game. And maybe then I won’t swing at terrible pitches. And maybe I’ll have learned to trash talk well enough to fit in.
The remainder of the evening included some delicious hamburgers and hotdogs, photos from Bryan’s mom’s trip to Yellowstone (beautiful!), some billiards playing and a couple corner brownies with ice cream and raspberry sauce. Even being the oddest man out, I reveled in the familial vibe in that house, in the constant, comfortable conversation that reverberated through every room. It made me miss Michigan even more strongly than I had already.
We vacated when Bryan’s weekend head cold refused to back down and he was overdue for another dose of meds. We returned to his house, I went out to get him some groceries for his recovery at home today and then it was another early bedtime, which made me happy. I had whiffled myself into a state of exhaustion. Now to keep that up as the summer progresses. I had forgotten how awesome it hurts when you do something active. It’s one of my favorite feelings in the world.